9 Must-Visit Attractions With the Seibu Railway 1 Day Pass: Moomin Valley Park, an American-Style Town, and More!
Got tired of the tall buildings and crowds of people of Tokyo? Let’s take a short trip to the suburbs using the convenient and affordable “Seibu 1 Day Pass”! This article introduces unknown scenic spots and activities aside from the usual places like Ikebukuro and Chichifu – from admiring natural views like cherry blossoms in spring and red spider lilies in autumn, to having a great time at the “Moomin Valley Park” where both adults and kids would enjoy, to gazing at the sunset with Mount Fuji in the background – all waiting for you to explore!
Jul 20 2020 (Sep 09 2020)
SEIBU 1 Day Pass
The SEIBU 1 Day Pass issued by Seibu Railway is a great value ticket for visitors, offering unlimited use on all Seibu lines (excluding the Tamagawa Line). It is perfect for travelers who want to leave the hustle and bustle of the city behind. There is also the 2 Day Pass option, allowing you to get on and off freely for 2 consecutive days. So choose the one that better fits your itinerary!
*The SEIBU 1 Day Pass covers the following lines: Ikebukuro, Seibu Chichibu, Seibu Yurakucho, Toshima, Sayama, Seibu Shinjuku, Haijima, Tamako, Kokubunji, Seibuen, and Yamaguchi
*Please present your passport or SEIBU PRINCE CLUB emi card to purchase either pass at the ticket counter.
Seibu Ikebukuro Line
The Seibu Ikebukuro Line has various services (including local, rapid, express, and limited express) running from western Tokyo all the way to Saitama and serves daily crowds of commuters as well as enthusiastic baseball fans. Apart from the busy major terminals, there are several more attractions worth visiting. Let’s take a look at them one by one.
Manjushage Festival: Red Spider Lilies in Kinchakuda
The red spider lily is known in Japan as the Manjushage, and legend has it that these flowers bloom along the shore of the Sanzu River, which separates the living world and the underworld. Their flowers and leaves do not grow at the same period, and the Japanese believe that this fact ("no green leaves when the flowers are blooming; no red flowers when the leaves appear") symbolizes separation, death and oblivion. For this reason, red spider lily is given the nicknames of "flower of hell", "ghost flower" and "millenium flower" as well. The captivating flowers appear to be burning red under the bright sun, while at closer inspection the color is deep as blood. To admire these red beauties, there is no better place than Kinchakuda Manjushage Park in Saitama, the largest red spider lily field in Japan.
From Ikebukuro, take the express train for a 1-hour ride to Koma Station, and the park is not far away.
Surrounded by the Koma River, Kinchakuda is 500 meters in diameter and 22 hectares in area. From mid-September to early October every year, 5 million red spider lilies bloom in the field, forming a mysterious and otherworldly scene as if covering the earth with a fire-colored velvet blanket. Every flowering season, the "Manjushage Festival" is held, which offers foods, goods and stage performances for visitors from all over the world.
Oku-Musashi Twin Peaks Hiking Course
Located in Saitama, Hanno-shi is the entrance of the prefectural Oku-Musashi National Park. The train ride from Ikebukuro to Hanno Station takes around 50 minutes.
The Oku-Musashi Twin Peaks hiking course is about 8.7 kilometers long and takes about 2 hours and 40 minutes to finish, which is perfect for beginners. Starting from the north exit of Hanno Station, walk along the shopping street for about 20 minutes, and then you will be greeted by a green foothill or a clear stream, where you can feel the healing power of Mother Nature. On a sunny day, even Mount Fuji is visible in the distance. The course is recommended for travelers who love nature, vast views and a leisurely hike. Hike with at least one companion for your safety, pay attention to the weather before heading out, and make sure you are well equipped. For detailed information on the hiking course, visit the Seibu Railway Hiking Course Official Website.
Noninji Temple, the Filming Location of TV Drama “From Five to Nine”
Located in Hanno, the 500-year-old Noninji Temple is where Hoshikawa, the protagonist of Japanese drama "From Five to Nine", has lived since his childhood. Fans of the show, or of lead actor Tomohisa Yamashita, are sure to have seen this place!
Noninji Temple covers a vast area with a quiet and elegant ambience, and is adorned with red maple leaves in autumn. By paying 300 yen on the right side of the main hall, guests can visit the courtyard, study hall, kitchen, staircase and cloister, as well as the main hall behind the courtyard—all of which were featured in the hit drama. It must be an incredible experience for fans to actually be at this filming site! Besides the temple and buildings from the show, the Horai Teien (a garden focused thematically on the mythological Mt. Penglai), one of Japan's 100 Finest Gardens, is also not to be missed.
Moomin Valley Park: A Nordic Fairy Tale World
Around a 20-minute walk away from Motokaji Station of the Seibu Ikebukuro Line is the "Tove Jansson Akebono Children's Forest Park", a place that makes visitors feel as though they were in a Nordic forest. It is inspired by the Finnish fairytale character "Moomin" and named after its author, though some fans like to call it the "Moomin Valley Park" instead.
Strolling through the park, surrounded by forests and adorned with tree-lined paths and stairs everywhere, will make one feel like wandering in the “Moomin” anime world. This is a place both adults and children will find delightful! The most amazing spot must be the mushroom-shaped “Moomin House” decorated with warm wooden furniture inside. The wooden stairs, sofa, locked treasure box, cabinet, lovely windows, tables and chairs—everything is a meticulous, faithful reproduction of the original.
The most iconic building in the anime is the “blue cabin in the river” where melancholic poet Snufkin often fishes alone, and it is recreated in this park. Its sapphire blue exterior and pointed roof perfectly evoke the scenery from the series, making it one of the favorite photo spots of many visitors.
In the park, there are also cafes and Moomin souvenir shops, both of which are not to be missed by fans. If you plan on visiting on weekends and National Holidays, consider staying until the evening when the park is lit up (until 9:00 pm), to experience a mysterious and fantasy-like atmosphere completely different from the daytime Nordic fairytale environment.
American-Style Johnson Town
“Johnson Town” is an American-themed village hidden in Iruma-shi, so you don’t have to fly all the way to the United States to experience their culture. During the post-war American occupation, this hinterland and its surroundings were an army dormitory for the Johnson Air Base (now the Iruma Air Base) and were then abandoned following the withdrawal of the troops. Later, it was transformed into a small American-style town with mixed commercial and residential properties. There is even an American flag hung at the entrance of Johnson Town!
"Johnson Town" is approximately 25,000 square meters in size, with 130 houses and 210 people living in the area. The buildings are distinctively charming, and are mainly a mix of classically American white wooden bungalows and modern low-rise residences. Ever since the release of American movie “Sugar & Spice” in 2006, primarily shot in Johnson Town, the town has been widely featured in TV dramas, fashion magazines and CD covers. Nowadays, the small town has around 50 cafes, restaurants and sundry shops, attracting quite a lot of tourists every day.
In addition to American-style homes and streetscapes, “Johnson Town” also has shops that sell American and British groceries as well as American food and beverages, giving you an illusion of being in the States. However, since the place is privately owned and these are local residents, permission is required for commercial photography. Also keep in mind that the residential areas outside the stores are private properties and must not be trespassed.
Mitsui Outlet Park Iruma: the Largest Outlet Mall in Kanto
Mitsui Outlet Park Iruma is just an hour away from Ikebukuro and Shinjuku. Easily accessible and conveniently located near the center of Tokyo, it is said to be the largest outlet mall in the Kanto area.
Mitsui Outlet Park Iruma covers an area of about 86,000 square meters and features around 210 famous Japanese and foreign brands, including Polo Ralph Lauren, Coach, Diesel, Le Creuset, and Adidas. The mall offers clothing and accessories, children's products and outdoor leisure merchandise, as well as daily necessities and groceries for local residents. Visitors will love shopping here so much that they won't want to leave!
The Lively Cherry Blossom Season
Located in Sayama-shi, Sayama Inariyama Park is around a 40-minute train ride away from Ikebukuro. It covers an area of 16.5 hectares and was part of the American Johnson Air Field. During a renovation in April 2002, trees like Japanese red pine and jolcham oak were planted and a large lawn plaza was created, adding greenery to the city and providing leisure space for local residents.
When spring comes, the green park is transformed into a blooming field of Somei-Yoshino and Yae-Sakura cherries. During the cherry blossom season, there is a sakura-themed festival with all kinds of outdoor activities like performances, camping and BBQ, making it one of the most popular cherry blossom attractions among the locals. Full of spring spirit, Sayama Inariyama Park is no doubt the best place to experience this quintessentially Japanese tradition.
Musashi Rikyu: A Tea House Offering “Sayama Tea”, One of Japan’s Top 3 Teas
Named one of the top 3 Japanese teas, together with Shizuoka tea and Uji tea, Sayama tea originates from the Kamakura period and is grown mainly in the region from Iruma-shi to Sayama-shi and Tokorozawa-shi. The wide and thick tea leaves brewed at a high temperature give a distinct rich and deep flavor, hence the saying "the color of Shizuoka, the fragrance of Uji, the taste of Sayama".
Compared with other teas, Sayama tea has a smaller yield but is superior in quality, and since Sayama is close to the enormous Tokyo market, the variety has become a favorite among tea lovers. Around a 7-minute walk away from Kotesashi Station is tea house Musashi Rikyu. It is operated by Araien Honten, a Sayama tea garden that has won the Emperor's Cup Award. At Musashi Rikyu, not only can guests buy highly acclaimed tea leaves and tea bags, but they can also enjoy desserts and cuisine with tea. What better way to enjoy a relaxing break?
Fujimi Terrace: Gaze at a “Diamond Fuji” From Between Skyscrapers
Want to admire the beautiful sight of Mount Fuji without going for a hike? There is actually a hidden vantage point at Higashi-kurume Station in Tokyo!
From the ticket gate on the second floor of the station, head toward the west exit and pass through an automatic door to reach an outdoor observation deck. Standing on the terrace, look past "Marronnier Fujimi Avenue", and you can see Mount Fuji among skyscrapers!
The view from here is different from the natural scenery you get on a hike, as it is in the midst of a high-rise jungle, and the view was selected as one of “Kanto’s Top 100 Mount Fuji Views”. If you are lucky, you might even get to see the “Diamond Fuji”, a magnificent sight of the golden rays of sunset shining above the mountain.
Different from the dazzling and exciting Tokyo, the attractions along the Seibu Ikebukuro Line are mostly natural views that change with the season, combined with tastes of unique local culture. Get yourself a one-day ticket to leave behind the fast pace of the city and embrace a change of scenery! You will definitely be impressed by the landscapes full of historical and natural charm.
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The information in this article is accurate at the time of publication.