Love it or loathe it, exercise keeps us all fit, gets us out and about meeting new people, and is good both for body and state of mind. In Saitama many gymnasiums may only cost a few hundred yen to use and can be booked for team events like football (soccer), volleyball and basketball. On entering you will probably be asked so sign in and asked to write down your address as city residents pay lower fees. Athletic shoes worn outside are not permitted for indoor usage no matter which gymnasium you visit.
Gymnasiums in Sayama
Citizens General Gymnasium, Chikozan Park, 555 Kashiwabara. Call 042-952-0511
Sayamadai Gymnasium / Swimming Pool, 1-29-2 Sayamadai. Call 042-958-1201
Azumaen Leisure Centre, 536-3 Minami Iriso. Call 042-958-4945
Oak Three, 506-1 Mizuno. Call 042-956-0093
The above are merely a small sample. There are various sports clubs in Sayama with some specialising in anything from boxing to karate. Please ask Japanese or non-Japanese who have lived in Japan for a while for places they know. Check or get someone else to check for you, if you may be interested in a certain activity. The telephone book or Japan's version of the Yellow Pages are good places to start.
Sayama's very own Chikozan park has a gymnasium, hot baths, facilities for various sports and even accomodation. The latter, Chikozan-so, is located in the park and can be called on 042-953-6677.
Akigase park in Urawa has amongst other things, a nature preserve, woods and picnic areas. Call 048-862-5842 in Japanese for more information.
Yoshimi park is different in that besides its sporting facilities it has a golf course. From Higashi Matsuyama Station take a bus for Komyo and then walk 20 minutes. Call 0493-54-3111 in Japanese if you want to play golf.
Chichibu Muse Park
Set in the beautiful Chichibu countryside the park has all weather tennis courts, pools, roller skating, hiking courses, cycling courses, a maze to test you, a nearby temple and ice skating in winter. From Seibu Chichibu Station take a bus to Muse Park. Call 0494-25-1315 in Japanese.
Arakawa Cycling Course From Kita Urawa Station take the west exit for a 46 kilometre course along the banks of the Arakawa. Call 048-824-2111 in Japanese for more information.
Edogawa Cycling Course From Minami Sakurai Station a 25 minute walk gets you to the Edogawa along whose banks is a 30 kilometre course. Call 048-824-2111 in Japanese.
Shinrin Koen From Shinrin Koen Station take a bus to Shinrin Koen to reach a cycling and strolling course through beautiful scenery. Rental bicycles are available and you will be charged an admission fee. Call 0493-56-2225.
Places to stay while you play away
Chichibu Youth Hostel is about 15 minutes walk from Chichibu Lake in Otaki village. Take a bus to Chichibu Lake (last stop). Call 0494-55-0056. Expect to pay about Y2000. Prices alter according to the time of year.
Moroyama is a picturesque "village" of about 20,000 plus people. From Higashi Moro Station you can take a bus for Kamakitako Youth Hostel. The area is popular amongst hikers. Call 0492-94-0219.
For a more complete list of Youth Hostels in Japan you could buy the YHA book of its member hostels throughout the world or contact the Japanese Embassy nearest you for full details.
Experience Japanese culture the traditional way in a ryokan. Food, rooms, baths and service are all the way things were meant to be in Japan of a bygone age. Breakfast and dinner is usually included in the price.
A few minutes walk from Chichibu Station is the Nishichu Ryokan. Two meals and a night's stay could cost about Y5,000. You can forego the food and the price decreases to around Y3,500. Call 0494-22-1350 in Japanese.
Nearby is the Chikujukan Ryokan which is about twice as expensive for a night's stay and two meals. Call 0494-22-1230.
Why not try minshuku (private guest houses) shukubou (temples that offer accomodation, sometimes in return for doing work) or capsule hotels. For the first two contact local tourist offices often found in city halls. For the latter just get a Japanese male colleague or friend to tell you what happened to him when he missed the last train on a night out. Despite stories to the contrary women can stay in certain capsule hotels as well.
Remember, the new look Nippon Living has loads more information and countless translations of things you need for every day living in Japan. In it you will also find more on:
|Museums and Galleries|
Here are telephone numbers of some Saitama and Tokyo cinemas. Call for performances in Japanese.
|Shin Tokorozawa Resshi Cinema Park||042-998-8000|
|Kotesashi Drive In Theatre||042-928-0089|
|Kawagoe Theatre Homerun||0492-22-1211|
|Omiya Hata Cinema 1 & 2||048-643-4511|
|Omiya Toho Hakucho||048-641-8151|
|Omiya Toho Scalaza||048-641-4421|
|Urawa Verde Toho||048-831-9001|
|Cinema Rise Shibuya||03-3464-0052|
PLACES TO GO, THINGS TO DO
Tired of the local izakaya? Had too many trips to that nearby ramen shop? Family restaurants menus becoming boring? Cannot bear another visit to the newest karaoke bar in town? Well help is at hand. Below are a sample of what else is out there, in Saitama and Tokyo. For listings of the trendiest places to go to check out the Tokyo Journal, Tokyo Classified, Tokyo Notice Board and Tokyo YY. More details on these publications can be found in the Things Foreign section.
The following are listed on the grounds they are straightforward to get to from Sayama and could not be further away from the idea of sushi if you tried. They also offer reasonable value for money. Call in Japanese unless otherwise stated.
Close to the east exit of JR Kawagoe Station, Capricciosa serves Italian food, offering the full range of pasta dishes, pizza, salads etc. The helpings are large for Japan and the atmosphere good. The food is tasty and inexpensive. This Italian restaurant chain can be found across the Kanto region. Call the Kawagoe branch on 0492-26-3814.
Just 3 minutes walk from Seibu-Shinjuku Station in Kabukicho, Shinjuku. Sells a wide variety of food and beer from around the world. The cocktails are good too. Live latin bands play and a small dance floor gives you the opportunity to move to the music as well. The great decor and aptly dressed waiters and waitresses add to the atmosphere. You can even have your photograph taken with the band on stage on your birthday. Call 03-3204-5565.
A 5 -10 minute walk from Seibu-Shinjuku Station, El Flamenco offers live flamenco dancing. The food is good, the atmosphere superb and the passion of the dancers so fervent, you can almost feel their sweat. In fact, if you sit next to the stage, you probably will. Cover charge is Y3000. Call 03-3356-3816.
With branches across Tokyo, El Torito offers Mexican food that fills you up, often a rarity at restaurants in Japan. Plenty of choices on the menu and a cake and sing-song on your birthday. The branch at Shinjuku Southern Terrace has great murals of Mexican markets and some of the staff can speak English. The telephone number of the just mentioned branch is 03-5351-7074.
No more than a 10 minute walk from the east exit of Omiya Station, Hung Fuoc offers tasty, reasonably priced Vietnamese food. The friendly staff will explain the cuisine if you are not familiar with it and help you make your choice. Call 048-642-7029
Serves tasty middle eastern food. The atmosphere is very friendly, the background music ideal and there are plenty of vegetarian dishes. The all you can eat Y2000 special is value for money for Japan. Five varying courses starting with soup, gives you the full range of middle eastern cuisine. This place really fills you up. Call in English or Japanese for reservations on, 03-3948-5333. Get off at Ekoda Station, three stops before Ikebukuro on the Seibu-Ikebukuro Line. From the south exit it is just a 5 minute walk. It often turns into a nightclub at the weekend.
A 15 minute walk from Seibu Shinjuku Station brings you to a bar/restaurant that takes you to the South Seas. Tiki Tiki has a Polynesian theme with plenty of original tropical cocktails, Polynesian style food and great decor. The atmosphere is heightened by the background music and Polynesian style dancing that happens at intervals throughout the evening. There are three branches of Tiki Tiki and to catch the action at the Shinjuku restaurant call, 03-3226-0996.
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