Many Tokyoites see Saitama as a suburban, slightly boring counterpart of Tokyo, but don’t let city folks convince you there’s nothing exciting to see beyond our packed metropolis. Aside from whimsical nature escapes like the Moomin Valley Park, Saitama became home to an impressive new arts and culture centre amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
Opened in the autumn of 2020, Tokorozawa Sakura Town features a museum, park, hotel and shopping mall. The Kadokawa Musashino Museum stirred particular interest among art and design lovers ahead of its opening as it was designed by famed Japanese starchitect Kengo Kuma. While the structure’s grey stone exterior is a deviation from Kuma’s signature natural wood design, the architect has installed a stunning library on the inside with his signature timber slats, which houses roughly 50,000 titles.
A short walk outside the museum, you’ll find the Higashi Tokorozawa Park, which is home to one of the lesser known teamLab installations in Japan. This permanent exhibition is titled ‘Resonating Light in the Acorn Forest’. It’s an interactive artwork featuring ovoids that emit sounds and change the colour of their lights when people approach them.
Getting there: From Tokyo Station, take the rapid Keihin-Tohoku train bound for Omiya and get off at Minami-Urawa Station. Then, take the local Musashino line train (to Fuchu-Honmachi) and get off at Higashi-Tokorozawa Station.