The city was founded on May 1, 2001, and was designated on April 1, 2003 as a government ordinance. For the histories of Urawa, Ōmiya and Yono before the merger, see:Urawa-ku, Saitama
Ōmiya-ku, Saitama and
Yono, Saitama, respectively.
On April 1, 2005, Saitama absorbed the city of Iwatsuki to its east, which became a new ward, Iwatsuki-ku.
The name "Saitama" originally comes from the Sakitama (埼玉郡) district of what is now the city of Gyōda in the northern part of what is now known as Saitama Prefecture. "Sakitama" has an ancient history and is mentioned in the famous 8th century poetry anthology Man'yōshū. The pronunciation has changed from Sakitama to Saitama over the years.
With the merger of Urawa, Ōmiya, and Yono it was decided that a new name, one fitting for this newly created prefectural capital, was needed. The prefectural name "Saitama" (埼玉県) was changed from kanji into hiragana, thus Saitama City (さいたま市) was born. It is the only prefectural capital in Japan whose name is always written in hiragana, and belongs to the list of hiragana cities.
However, Saitama written in hiragana (さいたま市) actually finished in second place in public polling to Saitama written in kanji (埼玉市). Despite this, government officials decided to name the new city Saitama in hiragana, not kanji. In third place in the poll was Ōmiya (大宮市). In fourth was Saitama (彩玉市), written with an alternative kanji for "sai" (彩) which means "colorful". The "sai" (埼) used in the prefectural name is a rare form of a common character (崎) that means cape or promontory.
The city is located 20 to 30 km north of central Tokyo, roughly at the center of the Kantō Plain. Situated in approximately the center of Saitama Prefecture, the city is topographically comprised by lowlands and plateaus, at mostly less than 20 m above sea level, with no mountain ranges or hills within the city boundaries. The western portion of the city lies on the lowland created by the Arakawa River along with those created by small rivers such as the Moto-Arakawa River, Shiba River, and Ayase River. The rest of the area mostly resides on the Ōmiya Plateau lying in the north-south direction. Dispersed in this region, major rivers flow southward, almost paralleling to one another.Saitama Prefecture
Ageo (to the northwest)
Hasuda (to the north)
Shiraoka (to the north)
Asaka (to the south)
Kawaguchi (to the south)
Toda (to the south)
Warabi (to the south)
Koshigaya (to the east)
Kasukabe (to the northeast)
Kawagoe (to the west)
Shiki (to the west)
Fujimi (to the west)
Saitama has ten wards (ku), which were assigned official colours as of April 2005:
Saitama's economy is principally constituted by commercial business. The city is one of many commercial centers of the Greater Tokyo area and serves Saitama Prefecture, North Kanto, and northeast Honshu.
Saitama is also home to various manufacturers, exporting automotive (Honda manufactures the Honda Legend at Sayama Plant), food, optical, precision and pharmaceutical products. Calsonic Kansei, a global automotive company is headquartered in the city. Iwatsuki is famous for manufacturing of hinamatsuri dolls and ornate kabuto (samurai helmets).
Representative station is Urawa Station. Saitama is a regional transportation hub for both passengers and freight train lines. Ōmiya Station, part of the Shinkansen high-speed train network, serves as the biggest railway hub in the prefecture.
The closest major airports are Haneda Airport and Narita International Airport, both about two hours away. Honda Airport in Okegawa is for general aviation and offers no scheduled transport services. Commuter helicopter flights to Narita Airport are offered from Kawajima.■ East Japan Railway Company
Tōhoku, Akita, Yamagata, Jōetsu and Hokuriku Shinkansen
Urawa - Saitama-Shintoshin - Ōmiya - Toro - Higashi-Ōmiya
Urawa - Saitama-Shintoshin - Ōmiya - Miyahara
Minami-Urawa - Urawa - Kita-Urawa - Yono - Saitama-Shintoshin - Ōmiya
Musashi-Urawa - Naka-Urawa - Minami-Yono - Yonohommachi - Kita-Yono - Ōmiya
Nishi-Urawa - Musashi-Urawa - Minami-Urawa - Higashi-Urawa
Ōmiya - Nisshin - Nishi-Ōmiya - Sashiōgi
■ Saitama Rapid Railway Line
■ Tobu Urban Park Line
Ōmiya - Kita-Ōmiya - Ōmiya-kōen - Ōwada - Nanasato - Iwatsuki - Higashi-Iwatsuki
■ Saitama New Urban Transit ("New Shuttle")
Ōmiya - Tetsudō-Hakubutsukan - Kamonomiya - Higashi-Miyahara - Konba - Yoshinohara
Tokyo Gaikan Expressway
National Route 16
National Route 17
National Route 122
National Route 293
National Route 463
The executive mayor, who is directly elected, is Sōichi Aikawa, an independent backed by the Liberal Democratic Party and Komeito. On May 24, 2009, Aikawa lost his bid for reelection against Hayato Shimizu, who was backed by the opposition DPJ. The city assembly of Saitama has 64 elected members.Saitama mayoral election, 2005
Nihon University Faculty of Law
The Open University of Japan Omiya Study Center
Shibaura Institute of Technology
University of Human Arts and Sciences
Nippon Institute of Technology
Kokusai Gakuin Saitama Junior College
Urawa University Junior College
Omiya Law School
Saitama was one of the host cities for the playoffs and the final of the official 2006 Basketball World Championship.
It is home to two J. League football (soccer) teams: the Urawa Red Diamonds, formerly owned by Mitsubishi, and Omiya Ardija, formerly owned by NTT.
The city and Tokorozawa are home to the Japan Professional Basketball League team the Saitama Broncos.Urawa Red Diamonds - J. League football (soccer)
Omiya Ardija - J. League football (soccer)
Saitama Broncos - bj league basketball (The base is Saitama Prefecture, main is Saitama, Tokorozawa.)
Saitama Seibu Lions - NPB (baseball)
NJPW Dojo - NJPW (professional wrestling)
Since 2013, the city has hosted the Saitama Criterium cycling race sponsored by the Tour de France, held at the end of October.
Most of Saitama Prefecture's mass media presence is concentrated in this city. See Mass media in Saitama Prefecture for details.
Saitama has seven sister cities. Toluca, Mexico (1979)
Zhengzhou, China (1981)
Hamilton, New Zealand (1984)
Richmond, Virginia, United States (1994)
Nanaimo, British Columbia, Canada (1996)
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States (1998)
Balzers, Liechtenstein (2000)
John Lennon Museum
Minuma Rice Paddies
Ōmiya Bonsai Village
Saitama New Urban Center
Saitama Stadium 2002
Saitama Super Arena
Saitama Museum of Modern Art