is the capital and the most populous city of Saitama Prefecture in Japan, situated in the south-east of the prefecture. Its area incorporates the former cities of Urawa, Ōmiya, Yono and Iwatsuki. It is a city designated by government ordinance. Being in the Greater Tokyo Area and lying 15 - 30 kilometres north of central Tokyo, many of its residents commute into Tokyo.
Situated within the Kantō Plain, the city is topographically comprised by lowlands and plateaus, mostly falling below 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 has ten wards (ku), which were assigned official colours as of April 2005:
|■1 - Chūō-ku||中央区||(Rose red)|
|■2 - Iwatsuki-ku||岩槻区||(Ochre)|
|■3 - Kita-ku||北区||(Dark green)|
|■4 - Midori-ku||緑区||(Green)|
|■5 - Minami-ku||南区||(Lemon yellow)|
|■6 - Minuma-ku||見沼区||(Sky blue)|
|■7 - Nishi-ku||西区||(Blue)|
|■8 - Ōmiya-ku||大宮区||(Orange)|
|■9 - Sakura-ku||桜区||(Cherry blossom pink)|
|■10 - Urawa-ku||浦和区||(Red)|
The economy of the city is basically as one of the commercial centres in the Greater Tokyo Area and as a business centre to serve Saitama Prefecture, North Kantō or northeast Honshū.
Agriculture there is to supply foods for the residents of Greater Tokyo.
Manufacturing includes automotive, food, optical, precision and pharmaceutical products. Iwatsuki is famous for manufacturing of hinamatsuri dolls and ornate kabuto (samurai helmets). Biotechnology is an important industry in the city.
Ōmiya Station, part of the Shinkansen high-speed train network, serves as the biggest railway hub in the prefecture. The Musashino and Saitama Railway lines offer connections at other stations. The Shuto, Tokyo Gaikan and Tōhoku expressways serve the city. National Highway Routes 16, 17, 122, 298 and 463 also serve the city.
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
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.