Information of Higashimatsuyama City
Higashimatsuyama City is located in Saitama prefecture north of Japan’s capital city Tokyo．It is inside the metropolitan area and about 50km from Tokyo. The city plays a central part of industry, education and culture in the Hiki Hills, located in the center of Saitama. There is still a lot of nature in Higashimatsuyama. We can see many parks which harmonize with nature．
Among them，There are some parks where we can see the city’s flower, peony. Citizens like flowers. Therefore we have conducted a campaign of flowers“Hana-ippai-undo”to fill the city with flowers.
A highway and a railroad run through the city. It is very convenient to commute to the metropolitan area and to transport goods. Because the transportation network is so well designed, there is a big industrial zone as the core of industry in Higashimatsuyama. We also have well-equipped residential areas.
As for educational institutes, we have a university and 3 high schools which boast high levels of studies and sports. We also try to keep the same high quality at our 11 elementary and 5 junior high schools. Furthermore, city management is run giving priority to lifestyle and welfare issues first. We are proactive in our efforts to make living in our city a pleasant experience for all residents.
The city also holds the Japan Three-Day March and other traditional Japanese events every year. These events bring liveliness and richness to the citizen’s lives．There are some projects aimed toward a “new typed” city regarding humanity and the environment : politics, the economy, culture, city life etc… We are making every effort to complete these projects.
Higashimatsuyama city is situated in the center of Saitama prefecture.
1.By railroad : It takes about one hour from “Ikebukuro” station (Tokyo) by “Tobu Tojo” line.
2.By car : It takes about one hour from the Japan's capital of Tokyo by ”Kan-etsu” expressway.
The average temperature of the city is 15.5℃ (2009). We have hot summer and cold windy winter. And rainy season is June and September. It is the characteristic of east Japan's climate.
Higashimatsuyama city has about 90,000 citizens and about 35,000 families (2010). The city is the biggest municipality in “Hiki” district.
CITY TREE AND FLOWER
The city tree is “PINE”. The tree is one of the most famous trees in Japan. There are many pine trees in the city. We love “PEONY” flowers as city flower. There are two big peony parks in the city. We established city tree and flower in 1974.
The city area is a 65.33 square kilometers and rice fields, fields, residential land, and woodlands are about 10 square kilometers each. So the life of citizens and nature are good in harmony in Higashimatsuyama.
The beginning of the history of Higashimatsuyama was the Paleolithic age. We can see The life of the age from excavations. In 16 century, many markets were opened in our city and grown up as commercial city. In 1954, a town and four villages combined and started as Higashimatsuyama city.
SPECIAL PRODUCTS / TOURIST SPOT
One of the city specialties in our city is “Yakitori”(skewered spicy pork) which has peculiarity its spicy source. There are over 50 Yakitori shops in the city. When we eat Yakitori, we put the source by ourselves on it. In the evening, Yakitori shops are bustling with people invited by the flavor of roasting it.
There are many pear trees gardens in the city and most of them in Higashidaira district. We can enjoy “pear picking ” in autumn. The entrance fee of the garden is around 500 yen .
HIGASHIMATUYAMA PEONY PARK
The city built this park to offer citizens a place to enjoy the city’s flower, the peony. The 30,700 square meters park is one of the largest peony parks in the Kanto region, and it has 5,800 stumps of peonies. Called “the king of flowers” or “God’s flowers” in olden times, the peony is as gorgeous and graceful in its character. In the park, there is a rare yellow peony. The best season for viewing is the beginning of May.
MONOMIYAMA PARK AND PEACE MEMORIAL MUSEUM
Monomiyama Park commands a beautiful view of the nature surrounding Higashimatsuyama. The park has 40,000 azaleas man-made streams, and ravines. Many people come to this park to relax with the family on holidays and weekends. The park is adjacent to Shoboji Temple, the Prefectural Children’s Zoo, and a natural forest park. In the 320,000 square meters forest park there are walking trails. The whole day can be spend enjoying the parks and other facilities there. In the center of Monomiyama Park is the Peace Memorial Museum. The museum illustrates the tragedy of the war and the importance of peace though the exhibition and movies. Curators are ready to offer further information. On a clear day you can see Mt. Fuji and other distant mountains from the observatory of the 41.5 meters tower.
PREFECTURAL CHILDREN’S ZOO
The zoo is located in the center of rich nature, the Takasaka area, a little away from the center of Higashimatsuyama. In the 460,000 square meters park, more than 1300 animals, including koalas and kangaroos are bred. There is a small animal’s corner with rabbits and guinea pigs, a horse-riding corner and a corner where children can touch animals (petting zoo).
This shrine was founded in 712. Throughout the year, various annual events are held in the shrine. On New Years’ Day, many people wearing the traditional “Kimono” visit this shrine to pray for good fortune throughout the new year. On February 3rd “Setsubun Festival” or “Bean Throwing Festival” is held to celebrate the coming of spring. People throw soybeans in order to drive away evil spirits and welcome good fortune.
“Hatsu Uma” festival to celebrate ancient times when the God came from the heavens , according to the ancient Japanese calendar is held in the middle of February. “Shichi-Go-San Festival” is held around the middle of November as a gala day for boys of 3 and 5 and for girls of 3 and 7 to pray for their healthy growth. In the precincts of the shrine there is a peony garden. People from neighboring prefectures come to enjoy the flowers in the beginning of May.
Founded in 718, this temple is one of 33 temples in the Bando Pilgrimage region. Pious worshippers visit this temple from all over the country. The long historical value of this temple is evidenced in the Sanmon Gate with Deva Kings in it, the “Kannon” Bodhisattva Hall, and the belfry. There is a 400 years-old gingko tree within the temple precincts. The tree shines with its yellow leaves in autumn
FESTIVALS AND EVENTS
TENNOSAMA FESTIVAL (Summer Festival)
This summer festival is held on the 4th Saturday and the following Sunday of July every year. Wishing that the gods drive away evil spirits and inviting good fortune and health, adults and children dress up in “Happi” coats and a light cotton kimono, the “Yukata” and carry “Mikoshi” or portable shrines. They march through the streets yelling and shouting to show their vigor. Another feature of the festival is the many floats or “Dashi.” This float, with “Taiko” drummers, Japanese flute players and dancers on it, is pulled by the adults and children representing the city regions. As floats meet in the streets, they compete to entertain the onlookers by their performance. This performance is called “Hikkawase.” People enjoy food and festival novelties sold in stalls along the street. The festival street scene is very lively till late at night.
JAPAN THREE-DAY MARCH
Higashimatsuyama’s biggest event is the “Japan Three-Day March”; the largest walking event in the country. It is held in early November every year. The city started hosting the event in 1978. People from around the world gather and enjoy walking in the autumnal Hiki District. Because this is not a competition of walking speed, walkers choose their own course from 5 different distances (5, 10, 20, 30, 50km) depending on their ability. Many volunteers help to organize the event. On the last day of the march, a big parade of walkers, brass bands and citizens march down the main street. Participants who have walked throughout the course receive applause and admiration from the onlookers of the parade. The country’s largest walking event offers people a chance to get to know each other, and friendship and mutual understanding deepen as they spend time together walking.
RICE POUNDING DANCE
A legend concerning this festival goes as follows; long ago, an evil dragon lived in Mount Iwadono. A brave warrior drove the dragon away. Citizens were very thankful for his great deed. They made and offered special rice cakes as a token of their gratitude. In this festival, dancers in “Happi” coats pound rice in a tub with a mallet while going around the tub singing to a unique rhythm. The rice cake made in this festival is offered to the gods as well as the festival viewers.
Welfare is one of the top priority policies of the city. We have many welfare institutions. The “General Welfare Area” works as the welfare base for the city. The area has 27,000 square meters. Various types of care are provided to the elderly and people with special needs with a 24-hour counseling service.
The city has various cultural institutions to meet the citizen’s academic aspirations. The City Library has 360,000 books and 150,000 audiovisual materials. Necessary documents and books can be searched for via the internet. The Citizen’s Cultural Center has a large hall with a capacity of 1200 seats. Since it is located in the center of the city, people have the opportunity to enjoy superb music concerts by famous musicians and wonderful dramas performed there without a hassle of going to a distant place. There are also 8 community centers (including Citizen’s activity center) in the city.
The importance of sports activities to keep fit and to promote friendship has been long emphasized. The most outstanding facility in the city is the Walking Center. It provides information about walking within the city and throughout the country. It also serves as the start point of 6 walking trails in the city. The city owns 7 baseball fields, 2 football grounds and 7 tennis courts. 4 gymnasiums, a Judo-hall and a Japanese archery field are also available. And the Athletics ground has 400 meters official tracks in the city as well.
The sister city of Higashimatsuyama is Nijmegen in the Netherlands. We had sister city treaty with Nijmegen in 1996. Great international walking events are held in both cities. So both cities were growing their friendship through walking and became sister cities. Nijmegen city is situated in south part of the Netherlands. The population is about 162,000 peoples and the area of this city is about 57.5 square kilometers. The main industry is electric machine manufacturing and many foreign-affiliated companies in the city. And also they have many culture and sports facilities; museum, concert hall, theater, soccer stadium etc... Nijmegen held many attractive events through a year. Especially, in every July, the world's most biggest walking events “International Four Days March” is held in the city.
H.I.F.A. Higashimatsuyama International Friendship Association
H. I. F. A. was organized in 1998 for international friendship exchange between Japanese and foreigners.
Members of H. I. F. A. are citizens who want to join the association. And they manage it as volunteer staffs.
Everybody will be able to join the association. So please join us, and let's enjoy together !
Principal events of H.I.F.A.
*Year end party
*Class of Japanese language. (every Wednesday [19:00 to 20:00] and Sunday [9:30 to 11:00])
*Cooking class of world dishes.
*World movies watching.
*Speech contest in Japanese by foreigners.
*One night stay with Japanese family.
Information: Life Study Section (tel 0493-23-2221. ext.275, fax 0493-23-2236)
OSHIRASE -information for foreigners-
Higashimatsuyama city issues OSHIRASE every other month. OSHIRASE gives information of the city for foreign residents in the city and it is written in English, Spanish, Portuguese and Chinese.
Publication Higashimatsuyama City,Saitama prefecture
Editing Life Study Section