About an hour away via train to the north of Tokyo is Saitama Prefecture. In this prefecture lies Chichibu, a city amidst the beauty of nature. The lush mountains that surround the town contribute to its peaceful and relaxing atmosphere. It was only recently that Chichibu started to actively promote itself as a tourist destination. With its rich heritage and an abundance of nature, the city is slowly becoming known as the perfect destination for a weekend getaway. Here are five things to do in the area!
Located at the summit of Mt. Mitsumine, Mitsumine Shrine is just one of the numerous shrines that you can visit in Chichibu. It is easily accessible by bus or car, but tourists who prefer the more active route can reach it by hiking.
The most interesting thing about Mitsumine Shrine is that it is a rare shrine that worships the now-extinct Japanese wolves, who have been considered as guardians against misfortune.
The Chichibu Night Festival is a popular fireworks festival held every December at Chichibu Shrine. It is considered as part of the top three Japanese festivals that feature floats, alongside the Gion Festival in Kyoto and the Takayama Festival in Gifu.
Chichibu Shrine is a Shinto shrine famous for its elaborate carvings. Inside the shrine is the Chichibu Festival Hall which serves as a museum dedicated to the festival.
Hitsujiyama Park is known for the Shibazakura Festival. Shibazakura flowers bloom from mid-April up to about late May and its petals look like sakura or cherry blossoms. The Shibazakura have an assortment of colors, from pink, purple, and white. They grow quite thickly on the ground, covering up all the empty spaces. The Chichibu Shibazakura Festival is the perfect opportunity for families and friends to take beautiful and memorable photos together.
In this museum, you can learn to create Chichibu Meisen, a type of Japanese silk that is specific to Chichibu. During the Meiji period until the beginning of the Showa period, Chichibu was well known for producing raw silk and other silk goods. As a museum, the Chichibu Meisenkan continues to preserve the technique on Chichibu Meisen.
The most famous dishes to try out while you are in Chichibu are their sweetfish dishes, soba, and shaved ice. The Arakawa River runs through the entire Saitama Prefecture, and with Chichibu situated at the upper part of the river, there is an abundance of sweetfish population.
Chichibu is also surrounded by mountains, which makes the temperature throughout the day varied. This type of environment is ideal for growing buckwheat which is used in making soba noodles. Last, but not the least, is their shaved ice which is made from frozen mountain water.
If you are looking to explore more of Japan but Tokyo is your home base, then a one-day trip to Chichibu in Saitama is the perfect choice to make. It is not that far from the capital and with Japan’s transportation, the travel will not be a burden to you. Aside from that, there are a lot of activities you can do in Chichibu that will certainly leave you feeling satisfied.