What is Saitama? Japanese view on Saitama explained

What is Saitama?

The word “Saitama” became famous thanks to anime One Punch Man, where the main guy’s name is “Saitama”. I assume sadly the word probably may be known by more people as anime character than as a prefecture in Japan.

However, that unpopularity doesn’t disappoint people from Saitama because they are used to being said that nobody cares about their prefecture.

Facts about Saitama

It is north of Tokyo, the capital of Japan. This is a bed-town of Tokyo, and as such, this prefecture has the 5th largest population in Japan.

Wikipedia

I attached the top populated 5 prefectures in Japan with its area (the unit of the area is km^2).

 

Wikipedia

What is Saitama from the Japanese point of view

One would probably assume that since it attracts so many people as a living place, Japanese people must have good opinions about the prefecture.

If you thought so, you will be surprised.

I, myself, am from Saitama and went to University in Tokyo, and met so many people from all over Japan there.
When I told them where I am from, there was always at least one person, who is not from Saitama, saying some negative things about out prefecture. This may sound kind of mean or rude especially if you were told something like this by a person you just met.

What are the images/views on Saitama that many Japanese people have?

1. There is no sea

 

Wikipedia

Surrounded by a sea as an island nation, it is unfortunate for a prefecture to not have the sea.
There are only 8 prefectures out of 47 that are not bordered by the sea.
I am not sure if other 7 prefectures are made fun of because of this fact, but Saitama is.

2. There is nothing to do.

There is no famous sightseeing spot in there.
Luckily, these days Kawagoe city and Chichibu city became a little hot tourist destinations thanks to many historical TV shows and anime.

Before, it was difficult to recommend to a friend a vacation in Saitama.
We do not have great nature spots, attraction parks, nor sightseeing spots.
It is just a bed-town of Tokyo…

3. Not cool, ugly

 

A celebrity in Japan once teased the prefecture by saying “da Saitama”, which translates to “uncool/ugly Saitama”, just because the word “uncool/ugly” rhymes with the prefecture name. This becomes its widespread impression since then.

Afterward, people see it as uncool or ugly, unfortunately.

4. There is no famous souvenir/product

I think almost every prefecture has their famous products.
Kyoto has Yatsuhashi,

Honke Yatsuhashi Nishio

Osaka is famous for takoyaki,


photo credit: 5thLuna Takoyaki via photopin (license)

Hokkaido is famous for Royce chocolate,

 

ROYCE’

and so on.

When it comes to Saitama, I am not sure what they are…
Sure we have lots of green onions and sweet potatoes…

MACHI LOG

 

Saitama Prefecture

Hmm, now I see why people think it is uncool/ugly…

Summary

We are so used to this nothing-to-do-place, so we accept that people make fun of Saitama for those things or rather we start these.
However, there are some things that we cannot give up.

Rival prefecture? Chiba Prefecture

They both belong to the Kanto area in Japan.
Kanto has two big prefectures, Tokyo and Kanagawa, where Yokohama is.

But it is difficult to decide the third popular prefecture in the area. There are two candidates, namely Chiba and Saitama.

People from different prefectures like to ask questions like, “After all which prefecture is the No.3 in Kanto?”

Let’s compare!

Saitama Chiba
Population 5th 6th
Location Next to Tokyo Next to Tokyo
Famous tourist destination Nothing really… Tokyo Disneyland
Famous tourist destination Nothing really… Tokyo Disneyland


photo credit: vicjuan IMG_1166 via photopin (license)

 

Famous product

 
MACHI LOG

Saitama Prefecture

 

 
Photo Credit: yoshing_BT Flickr via Compfight cc

 

It looks like Chiba wins because it has Tokyo Disneyland.

But still, we Saitaman want to believe we are the No.3 in Kanto.

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