20 Must-See Sightseeing Spots In Chichibu!
Chichibu of Saitama Prefecture is rich in natural resources and home to many Important Cultural Properties and sightseeing spots with seasonal environmental art. Located near Tokyo, the city is ideal for a short trip to enjoy hot springs, great food and modern architecture!
Feb 15 2021 (Feb 22 2021)
1. Hitsujiyama Park
Every spring, more than 1000 cherry blossom trees and moss pink bloom in Hitsujiyama Park. The Moss Pink Hill in the southern side of the park is covered in white, pink and blue flowers. Needless to say, this beautiful scenery, which happens only once a year, is much admired by tourists. Various facilities can be found in the park, such as the Viewing Hill overlooking the streets of Chichibu, Fureai Farm where adorable sheep are kept, and Wanpaku Square with wooden playground equipment. You can easily spend the whole day there!
2. Chichibu Shrine
The 2000-year-old Chichibu Shrine is just a walk away from Chichibu Station. Its main hall was built in the "gongen-zukuri" style and is designated as an Important Cultural Property of Saitama Prefecture. The shrine is also famous for its colourful "chained dragon" and "child-rearing tiger" carvings.
The Chichibu Night Festival, one of Japan's three best hikiyama (float) festivals, is held at the shrine on December 3rd every year. The "Kasahoko" and "Yatai" parade floats, a designated Important Intangible Folk Cultural Property, is the pride of Japan and definitely worth seeing.
3. Misotsuchi Icicles
Situated in Okuchichibu, the Icicles of Misotsuchi is a winter scenic spot not known to many. The frozen spring water is a work of art created by nature, unique to the harsh winter of Okuchichibu. The light-up of the natural icicles is a fantastical sight to behold, and the illuminated artificial ones upstream are just as delightful. (This year's event has already ended.)
4. Urayama Dam
Urayama Dam is the second tallest concrete gravity dam in Japan, and the view is simply stunning. It is open to all and visitors are welcome to explore the inside of the dam. Moreover, it is surrounded by a lush river valley where the scenery changes with the seasons, and the autumn colors are said to be especially beautiful.
5. Chichibu Distillery
The Chichibu Distillery has deep roots in the city. They brew single malt whisky, with the brand "Ichiro's Malt" widely known among enthusiasts. Despite its small size, the distillery has a big fanbase. (It is not open to general visitors.)
6. Mount Buko
Mount Buko is one of the 200 famous mountains in Japan. From the peak, one can enjoy a bird's-eye view of the entire city of Chichibu surrounded by natural landscapes, making it a tourist hotspot. There is also the Chichibu Yumoto Buko Onsen nearby, where you can warm your body and wash away your fatigue after a long day's hike.
7. Minoyama Park
Minoyama Park is well-known for its cherry blossoms and often referred to as the Mount Yoshino of the Kanto region. The park boasts an impressive 8,000 sakura and Yaezakura trees, attracting crowds of travelers every spring. The hiking trail is perfect for forest bathing as well. As night falls, one can watch the city of Chichibu turn into a glittering sea of lights, and it is no surprise that couples love dating there. The entire day will be gone before you know it!
8. Suisenji Temple
Built close to Chichibu Kegon Falls, Suisenji Temple is the final temple (known as the "kechigan") on the Japan 100 Kannon Pilgrimage. The temple sits in the midst of verdant mountains, and the falls is within walking distance.
9. Nakatsu Gorge
Nakatsu Gorge is a 10 km-long river valley on the Nakatsu River. It is designated as a Place of Scenic Beauty of Saitama Prefecture, and the view is different in all four seasons, making it an ideal place for hiking. And good news to those who love the outdoors - there are both accommodation facilities and camp sites available!
10. Seibu Chichibu Nakamise Street
Seibu Chichibu Nakamise Street is a bustling street lined with all kinds of shops, selling local specialties like the delicious sake manju (steamed bun made with Japanese rice wine). If you're shopping for souvenirs, this is the place to go!
11. Jigenji Temple
The main gate of Jigenji Temple was built in the "yakui-mon" style and painted black. The temple houses a wealth of Cultural Properties and other valuable artifacts, including the statues of the Yakushi Nyorai, Prince Shotoku and the Thirteen Saints. You may also have a taste of tea made from Nikko maple there!
12. Chichibu Kegon Falls
Chichibu Kegon Falls is about 600 m away from the Suisenji Temple, and its name comes from its resemblance to the Kegon Falls of Nikko. During autumn, the sight of the falls adorned by maple leaves is always the target of professional and amateur photographers alike.
13. Mikuni Pass
Are you longing to go for a refreshing ride in the countryside? Mikuni Pass, linking Chichibu to Nagano Prefecture, is the ideal mountain road to explore rural Chichibu from behind your windshield!
14. Old Katayama Hospital
Established in 1910, the Old Katayama Hospital is a Western-style modern building. It is currently occupied as a residence, meaning it is not open to visitors. Even so, one can feel the weight of history merely from its entrance and doorplate. Let the elegant structure pull you back in time to the golden age of Japan!
15. Sainokuni Fureai no Mori
Sainokuni Fureai no Mori is a park located in the Nakatsu River area of Okuchichibu. Take a stroll in the mountain and reinvigorate yourself by bathing in the negative ions all around you - remember to put on a pair of appropriate shoes and hiking clothing while doing so!
Iwadatami is a popular sightseeing spot in Nagatoro. The rocks sprawling across the river are flat like tatami, a most fascinating work of nature. We recommend visiting in early summer when the Nagatoro River valley is coated in vibrant green, and autumn when it turns a fiery red.
17. Chichibu Railway
Chichibu Railway is where you can find steam locomotives closest to Tokyo. The sight of the vintage trains crossing the Arakawa River is sure to impress everyone, railfan or not. See for yourself!
18. Mount Kumotori
From the summit of Mount Kumotori, you can even see the faraway Mount Fuji, and it is not uncommon for hikers to climb the mountain just for a worthwhile picture. Maybe you will get to see the magnificent Mount Fuji in a different light as well!
19. Hodosan Shrine
Hodosan Shrine is one of the three main shrines of Chichibu. The main shrine buildings are a 10-minute walk from the Nagatoro Station of the Chichibu Railway, but there is also the Okumiya ("rear shrine") up Mt. Hodo that you can access by ropeway. You're treated to a beautiful, unobstructed panorama on your way up. Visit if you have the time!
20. Chichibu Takizawa Dam & Raiden Todoroki Loop Bridge
Takizawa Dam is connected to Chichibu by the Raiden Todoroki Loop Bridge. The symmetrical bridge certainly won't disappoint! Besides, the dam is open to visitors, so be sure to check it out while you are there!
Visit the Picturesque City of Chichibu!
Are you tempted to pay Chichibu a visit after reading this article? The city is full of sightseeing spots that are worth a place in everybody's bucket list. Next time you travel to Japan, consider this hidden gem of a destination!
For more information about visiting Saitama, check out the official Saitama Facebook page! https://www.facebook.com/saitamajapan.en
Translated and republished with permission from: Relux Magazine
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The information in this article is accurate at the time of publication.