Sopia1/3
Photo: Keisuke TanigawaSopia
Kashiya Yokocho2/3
Photo: BANANA18/PhotoACKashiya Yokocho
Moomin Valley Park3/3
Photo: Moomin CharactersMoomin Valley Park

10 best spots for souvenir shopping in Saitama

These shops, cafés and attractions offer local mementos, gifts and food that you won't find anywhere else

Written by Time Out. Paid for by Saitama Prefecture
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Saitama prefecture north of Tokyo is famous for its lush nature and historical buildings. A popular spot for day trips from the capital, the region boasts a dizzying array of special local souvenirs to take home as a memento of your visit.

There's fresh local produce like soy sauce and organic veggies, traditonal sweets from the Kashiya Yokocho alley, special Shinto amulets from the stunning Chichibu Shrine and much more. Then there are the items that are best carried back home in your stomach, like the exquisite water yokan (red bean paste jelly) from Asami Reizo.

To help narrow down the options, here are ten must-visit shops, cafés and attractions for souvenir shopping in Saitama.

Sopia
Sopia
Photo: Keisuke Tanigawa

Sopia

Shopping Omiya

The ideal shop if you don't have time to travel around Saitama in search of souvenirs, Sopia stocks a whopping 650 different items from throughout the prefecture. Be sure to pick up both the local sake and the chocolate crunch sold in packages featuring Fukka-chan, the cute mascot of the city of Fukaya.

Asami Reizo Hodosan
Asami Reizo Hodosan
Photo: Asami Reizo Hodosan

Asami Reizo Hodosan

Restaurants Saitama

This artisanal kakigori shaved ice shop attracts particularly lenghty queues in summer but is well worth a visit year round. Be sure to try the water yokan (red bean paste jelly) made from Mt Hodo's natural spring water. It has a silky texture and a deep black honey flavour.

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Alishan Cafe
Alishan Cafe
Photo: fb.com/alishan.organiccenter

Alishan Vegetarian Organic

Restaurants Cafés Saitama

Local vegetables meet organic produce from all over the world at this wonderful vegetarian café. If it's sunny out, aim for a seat on the open-air deck. After your meal, head to the café's grocery shop which stocks a wide range of organic products, including vegetarian meat and oatmeal.

Kashiya Yokocho
Kashiya Yokocho
Photo: BANANA18/PhotoAC

Kashiya Yokocho

Shopping Saitama

Home to some 20 confectionery shops, Kawagoe's retro 'Candy Alley' is one of the town's most popular sights for a reason: watching the local candy artisans at work while snacking on their sugary creation is straight up addictive. 

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Musashi Winery
Musashi Winery
Photo: Keisuke Tanigawa

Musashi Winery

Bars and pubs Wineries Saitama

Established by the former head brewer of Ogawa's venerable Musashitsuru sake brewery, this remarkable micro-winery prides itself on producing only fully organic, completely natural vino – which you can either buy to take home or savour on the shop's terrace right then and there. Non-drinkers will want to try the sugar-free, ‘frozen’ grape juice instead.

Kinbue Soy Sauce Park

Shopping Saitama

Ready for a crash course in shoyu? Stop by Kinbue Soy Sauce Park, run by a 230-year-old soy sauce brewery, where you can learn about the process of making Japanese seasonings from bean to bottle. Plus, you can try a variety of condiments and take home souvenirs such as the brand's tsuyu soup, sesame dressing and shoyu-flavoured baumkuchen.

You can check the schedule for the factory tour on Kinbue Soy Sauce Park's official website.

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Moominvalley Park
Moominvalley Park
Photo: Keisuke Tanigawa

Moominvalley Park

Attractions Saitama

Saitama's family-friendly attraction is a must-visit for fans of the adorable Moomintrolls. Highlights include an interactive theatre, a 400m zip line stretching across the surface of Lake Miyazawa, the obligatory studio for snapping souvenir photos with your Moominvalley friends, and shops stocked with seasonal limited-edition Moomin merchandise exclusive to the park.

The Railway Museum
The Railway Museum
Photo: The Railway Museum

The Railway Museum

Museums Omiya

Heaven on earth for train geeks of all ages, this massive, fully accessible museum tells the history of Japan's railways from steam locomotives to the shinkansen through exhibits that include 40 actual railway cars and a bullet train simulator. Plus, there is a shop selling limited items such as T-shirts and socks with the museum logo as well as museum-exclusive snow globes and C57 toy locomotive and track.

(Note that the sales of C57 toy locomotive and track will be terminated once stocks currently in store are sold out)

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The Omiya Bonsai Art Museum
The Omiya Bonsai Art Museum
Photo: The Omiya Bonsai Art Museum

The Omiya Bonsai Art Museum

Things to do Omiya

If miniature trees are your thing, missing out on this museum simply isn't an option. Enthusiasts from around the world enjoy weekly changing exhibits and a stroll in the picturesque bonsai garden. The museum is fully wheelchair accessible and offers a multinlingual audio guide. As for souvenirs, you can't pass up the museum-exclusive tenugui hand towels in collaboration with specialty store Kamawanu, and designed with Japanese white pines.

Chichibu Shrine
Chichibu Shrine
Photo: Chichibu Shrine

Chichibu Shrine

Attractions Religious buildings and sites Chichibu

Enshrining a deity of wisdom, Chichibu's main Shinto sanctuary gets crowded with students during exam season but is rather calm at other times, so you'll have plenty of space to admire the shrine building's gorgeous sculptures. After your visit, check out the shrine's various protective charms, such as the owl-adorned amulet for academic success and the three wise monkeys for health and longevity.

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