Just a short ride north of the city’s downtown, Tokyo’s premier entertainment and sports venue is one of the world’s largest indoor arenas.
It’s hard to think of a sport or genre of music or performance that hasn’t been presented at the Saitama Super Arena. Large enough to accommodate American football, it holds regular martial arts competitions as well as hosting some of Asia’s and the world’s biggest names. Tokyo architecture firm Nikken Sekkei designed the arena. It serves as the basketball venue for the 2020 Olympics. Get tickets to a concert or a competition and come to Saitama for a taste of real Japanese fan culture.
Exit the train and follow people crossing the street from the train station to the arena, which glows in bright colors when events are on. Pass through the gates and head to the ticketed seats. Hope for luck, because Japanese concerts generally do not allow seat selection. Instead people are randomly assigned throughout the venue. If the excitement is too much, drop kids off at the on-site daycare and have a snack and a drink without a care in the world.
Feel the enormous space explode with excitement as the performance or game starts. Let yourself be carried away by the intoxicating feeling. After the event, stay around at nearby Keyaki Hiroba, whose second-floor courtyard buzzes with activity and a party atmosphere. No matter what happened during the event, you’re sure to find someone who wants to talk about it.
Saitama Super Arena is in the heart of Saitama, about a 1-hour drive northwest of downtown Tokyo. Walk to the closest subway station, Saitama Shintoshin Station, in a few minutes for connections to various parts of the city. Walk from Kitayono Station in 10 minutes. Take a shuttle from Haneda or Narita Airport to Saitama-Shintoshin station in about 90 minutes. Metered parking is available beneath the arena and Keyaki Hiroba next door, though spaces fill quickly on event days.
Reserve a spot for one of the occasional special tours of the structure. Childcare services also require a reservation. Purchase tickets online, as they cannot always be purchased the day of an event.