We live in Saitama Prefecture. One of the best ways I can described the “image” of Saitama is by saying that Saitama is the New Jersey of Japan. As most people from the USA know, New Jersey is often looked down upon-especially by the neighboring folks in New York City.
Well, Saitama is to Tokyo what New Jersey is to New York. Why?
I haven’t the foggiest idea.
My Japanese friends say that Saitama has an “uncool” image. That is about the best explanation I have been able to find. Which isn’t really an explanation at all.
For myself, I couldn’t care less about Saitama’s alleged poor image. I love living here. As someone from the vastly huge country of the USA, living in a small country like Japan has been illuminating. Living in the west of Saitama-considered to be the “countryside”-is lovely. It only takes us an hour by train to get from our inaka (countryside) to the megalopolis of Tokyo. This is by far one of my favorite things about living where we do.
About half way to Tokyo on our train line, there is a city called Kawagoe-sometimes called Koedo. This name refers to Tokyo's former name-Edo. Just north of Tokyo, Kawagoe was called Koedo-little Edo.
Ever since moving to Japan nearly three years ago, day visits to Kawagoe have been a favorite weekend activity. There are loads of delicious restaurants, beautiful shrines and temples, and lovely places to shop.