Kumagaya is a lovely city in Saitama Prefecture. Originally it was located on one of two routes that connected Kyoto and Edo (the old name for Tokyo).
Now it’s undeservingly not such a popular destination for tourists as many other cities of the Kantō region – but I was very lucky to be invited to visit it during my last trip to Japan. Here are some of the activities you can do there!
Join Matcha tea ceremony
Tea ceremony is a must for every visitor to Japan – and why not to attend it in a lovely tranquil park such as Seikeien Park? You can both observe the tea masters preparing tea and even try to make a proper matcha yourself!
The Seikeien Park dating back to 1623 is a tiny but charming Japanese Garden where you can wander around the pond, explore traditional tea houses and even spot the stones that were brought there after Hideyoshi’s attempt to conquer Korea in late 16th century.
Menuma Shodenzan temple
You’ll forget how to breath while visiting splendid Menuma Shodenzan temple, one of the three major Shoden temples. It was built around 800 years ago and rebuilt around 250 years ago.
You can literally spend hours exploring all these colorful carvings of the Inner Hall of the Temple: the scenes with people are highly influenced by Chinese stories such as ‘Seven Deities of Good Fortune and Play by Chinese Children’, and every single animal carries a multilayered symbolic sense. Besides that, this temple is intentionally left unfinished: there are a few spots with a figure missing.
If you’ve been to Nikko, you might find this style familiar – it’s called Goden style 🙂 but there is an intentional slight variation in ornaments that highlights the difference between Nikko Toshogu and Menuma Shodenzan.
Interesting: Main building is assigned as a National cultural treasure designated by the State.
Do you know how udon, one of the most famous Japanese noodles, is made? You have a chance to learn it yourself – at workshop at Yorimichi Ya restaurant!
The ingredients are very simple: local produced flour and salted water which you turn into dough (using both hands and feet for that!) and then cut into the noodles themselves. The whole process lasts for about 60-90 minutes depending on whether you take prepared noodles home or you choose to eat them in the restaurant.
Kumagaya is, by the way, one of the largest wheat producers in Japan, so it’s the perfect place to get acquainted with udon!
Feeding koi at Kumagaya
Koi fish is one of the main symbols of good luck and prosperity in Japan – so don’t miss the opportunity to feed them! Just come to Hotel Garden Palace Kumagaya, buy fish food at the reception and proceed to Japanese traditional garden where you’ll find a good dozen of these colorful gorgeous creatures!
RWC styled food
If you happen to come across Teppan Hakkai restaurant near the Kumagaya station, pop in for a local version of okonomiyaki shaped as a Rugby ball specially crafted for the championship!
Ancient Lotus park
Make sure you have some time to travel around Kumagaya too. For instance, you can visit Ancient Lotus park Kodai Hasu Kaikan and learn about the life cycle of these amazing plants.
Besides that, you can observe the rice field art (made with use of various rice species colored differently) from the 50m high tower above the ground – during my visit the theme was rugby.
You might already know about my love for Japanese castles (I’ve written about it in my other blog) – so don’t be surprised that another castle crowns this list. Sadly, Oshi castle was destroyed but now you can still admire the beauty of reconstructed Gosankai-yagura Tower.
Hope you enjoyed my today’s post!