You may not be familiar with the term, “Dasai-tama,” but it is well known among the people of Japan. It is used to refer to Saitama Prefecture.
Saitama is the prefecture that sits on top of Tokyo like an over-sized hat.
(Observation: it looks like Tokyo is vomiting into Tokyo Harbor…Is that just me?)
Dasai is a term that means “uncool,” “gross,” etc.
Why is Saitama dasai?
Because, unlike the other prefectures that border Tokyo, Saitama is seen as a place that is all suburban and that has no other real appeal except being close to Tokyo.
Chiba has the ocean, the airport, and DISNEY.
Kanagawa has Hakone, Enoshima, Kamakura, and Yokohama.
Yamanashi has Mt. Fuji (pretty much enough said at that point)
I have been around Saitama and mostly agreed with this statement until a friend took me to Nagatoro in Chichibu.
Nagatoro is located about 2 hours away from Ikebukuro on the Seibu line.
The Nagatoro railroad stop is on a small line called ‘ the Chichibu Railway,’ which is famous for having an old-timey train. What do I mean by old-timey? It blows out smoke, because it is one of those black coal-eating engines.
As you can maybe tell from my tone, I am not the biggest fan of them, but plenty of people get excited to see one running. The train cabins are also retro and sort of fun as well.
The most popular times to go to Nagatoro are in the spring, when there are flowers, or the fall, when the leaves change. There is also a festival on August 15th every year called Funadama Matsuri. They float boats filled with lanterns down the river in order to appease the god who protects the boatmen.
Here are some pictures from when I went:
After walking around for a while, we thought we should experience the main attraction of the area, boating down the Arakawa River.
There are several places along the river that have these river boats. There are also places where you can do whitewater rafting.
Riverboat tours are 1,550 yen to about 2,900 yen depending on the distance you travel.
The cheaper course is about 30 minutes.