Chichibu / Nagatoro Tourist Information/ Easy access from the heart of Tokyo, Fun outdoor activities, and Soba-making workshops! The pilgrimage tour of “Anohana”
Learn about Chichibu
Some people may recognize Chichibu from the animation, “Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day.” Chichibu is located in the central part of Chichibu Basin surrounded by Chichibu Mountains, and it is now a famous sightseeing spot, for some of its facilities like Chichibu Bridge and Jorinji Temple have appeared in the Anime. It is easy to access from the center of Tokyo yet the place with abundant nature. This scenic region attracts visitors with beautiful nature such as Hitsujiyama Park known for moss phlox or the great scenery of the river terrace formed by Arakawa River running from southwest to northeast.
If you would like to enjoy a nature walk during your brief stay, Chichibu is the place to go. It is the most expansive area with rich greenery in Saitama Prefecture, but conveniently, it can be reached only in 90 minutes from Tokyo. Here are more details of tourist attractions in Chichibu.
Fans of “Anohana” must visit Chichibu!
Ever since the animation was broadcasted in 2011, Chichibu, where “Anohana” was setting, has become the popular sightseeing spot, and it has many fans of the anime visiting during the summer vacation. They provide lots of special collaboration projects between Seibu Railway and “Anohana” to make the fans enjoy Chichibu. For instance, when the train approaches to the spots appeared in the story, the announcing voice changes to its character’s voices. You will have a fun experience as if you were in the world of “Anohana.” The best of all, this is the most popular tourist spot.
Chichibu Bridge, this is the bridge featured even in the “Anohana” poster. Since this is a key location where Menma shows up, many people may recognize it. The bridge was built in 1985, and now, thanks to “Anohana,” it has many fans of the anime visiting and becomes one of the most famous tourist attractions. Arakawa River seen from this bridge runs towards Yorii/Kumagaya and leads to Minoyama Mountain, which stretches over Minano-machi and Chichibu-shi. The best time to come to the bridge is at dusk. You can see the most beautiful sunset and the wonderful vista.
To get to Chichibu Bridge, take the Yoshida Line bus, via Shiritsu Hospital and bound for Ogano, from Seibu Chichibu station to Chichibu Bridge bus stop. The bus accepts IC card.
Address: Eastern Shore : Abomachi, Chichibu, Saitama Prefecture Zip 368-0016
Admission Fees: NA
Official Website: http://chichibu.c-next.net/entry/chichibubashi.html
Jisshozan Jorinji Temple
Jorinji Temple, located in Sakuragi-machi, Chichibu, Saitama Prefecture, has appeared in “Anohana” for many times as the place for Cho Heiwa Busters (Super Peace Busters) to hang out together. Its official name is Jisshozan Jorinji Temple, and the principal image of worship at this temple is Ekadasamukha (eleven-faced Avalokitesvara). They sell cute votive tablets featured with “Anohana” for 600 yen, which can be a great souvenir.
From Seibu Chichibu Station, take Seibu Kanko Bus bound for “Ogano Shako/Kurio (via Aioi-cho),” “Minano Station (via Terao),” and “Wado-Kuroya Station circular route,” at 13 minutes’ ride, and exit at “Fudasho 17-ban Iriguchi.” Then, it is 3 minutes’ walk to the destination.
Address: 21-3 Sakuragi-machi, Chichibu, Saitama Prefecture
Hours of Operation：8:00am – 5:00pm
Full of attractions in Chichibu
Don’t forget to check the moss pink of Hitsujiyama Park out
Chichibu offers more than just “Anohana” featured spots, but there are splendid nature and plenty of other attractions, too. Hitsujiyama Park is located on the hilly area spreading from the northern ridge of Mt. Buko, the symbol of Chichibu city. It is known as the park where beautiful moss pinks bloom in the season from April through May. The park consists of a few hills like “Shibazakura no Oka (the Hill of Moss Pink),” where pink moss bloom in full glory and “Miharashi no Oka (the Hill of the Fine View),” which occupies the northern part of the park. During its high season, many visitors come to feast their eyes on the view of fully blooming moss pink. Hitsujiyama Park was established not too long ago; planting began in 2000. Amazingly, nine types, over 380,000 moss pinks were planted on its expansive ground of 17,600 square meters. The flowers are arranged by each color such as pink, white, and purple. The blooming season of moss pink is from April through May.
During the blooming season of moss pink, various events take place all over the town. Admission to the park costs 300 yen for an individual, 250 yen each for groups of over 20 people. *Free for middle school students and younger. Hitsujiyama Park is easy to access by 20 minutes’ walk from Seibu Chichibu Station while you can enjoy the scenic view spreading on the way.
Address：6360 Omiya, Chichibu, Saitama Prefecture
Hours of Operation：8:00am – 5:00pm
Admission Fee：300 Yen
Closed：NA, Open all year round
Transportation to Chichibu
To get to and around Chichibu, taking a train is the most recommended transportation. From Ikebukuro station, use Seibu Ikebukuro line, either Limited Express Red Arrow or a local train. Limited Express Red Arrow is very convenient taking about 80 minutes directly to Seibu Chichibu station and costs 1370 yen. If you take the local express train, you need to transfer at Hanno station. The fare is 750 yen, and it takes over 100 minutes to the destination.
The historical town, Nagatoro
If you are in the Chichibu district, why not extend your trip plan by adding extra 20 minutes to visit the nature rich town, Nagatoro? The town of Nagatoro is located on the northwest of Saitama Prefecture, a ravine of the upper Arakawa River, and also has many tourist attractions. This is a perfect place to refresh your mind and body tried from the busy life in the urban city. Let’s see what Nagatoro has to offer.
Hodosan Shrine is the noble Shinto shrine located in the small mountain with an elevation of 497 meters in Nagatoro, Chichibu. The shrine is surrounded by beautiful nature, and it was listed on the Michelin Green Guide Japan in 2011. A legend of Yamato Takeru no Mikoto (Prince Yamato Takeru) was left according to the shrine building. When he was heading to the top of the mountain to worship before making an expedition to the East, he was forced to stop by a huge wildfire in the mountain. Just then, a large dog (wolf) appeared in front him. As the dog was jumping into the great fire, the fire was extinguished, so the dog guided him up to the mountain. Based on this legend, the mountain was called “火止山, Hodoyama, (literally, fire stopped mountain),”and eventually, its name shifted to “宝登山, Hodosan (treasure climbing mountain).”
To get there: Walk 5 minutes from Seibu Chichibu station to Ohanabatake station. Take Chichibu line and get off at Nagatoro station. From Nagatoro station, it is 10 minutes’ walk.
Address：1828 Nagatoro, Chichibu-gun, Saitama Prefecture Zip 369-1305
Passengers enjoy the stunning view of nature from the ropeway built on the 497m high mountain, Mt. Hodo. The panoramic view from above includes Hodosan Small Animal Park, the rest house, and Hodosan Shrine. Two cabins manufactured in 1961, “Monkey” and “Bambi,” run on the 832m long cable connecting the foot of the mountain station and the summit station in 5 minutes. These cabins are named after a Japanese macaque and a deer grown at the Hodosan Zoo. Passenger capacity per cabin is 50.
Address: 1766-1 Nagatoro, Nagatoro-machi, Chichibu-gun, Saitama Prefecture Zip 369-1305
Hours of Operation：9:40am -5:00 pm
Fare：Adult- 480yen “One-way” / 820yen “Round-trip”
Child-240 yen “One-way”/ 410 yen “Round-trip”
Access：20 min. walk from Nagatoro station長瀞駅から徒歩20分。
Access to Nagatoro
To get to Nagatoro, it is about 20 minutes’ train ride from Chichibu station by Chichibu Testudo railway. If your schedule allows, you may want to catch a specially operated steam locomotive, Paleo Express, which runs daily only one round trip per day from Kumagaya station to Mitsumineguchi Station. To learn more detailed operating schedules of Paleo Express, check this article>> SL Paleo Express. Keep in mind that they do not accept IC Card.
Local Cuisines of Chichibu
Try Chichibu Soba noodles!
Chichibu Soba noodles are must-eats if you are in Chichibu district. Traditionally, Chichibu Soba has been known as the “triple fresh soba;”meaning “freshly ground,” “freshly kneaded, “freshly boiled,” for a long time. At JA Chichibu Soba Dojo Arakawa-tei, not only they serve the “triple fresh soba” but also they offer Soba making workshops. You will have a valuable experience of making soba while filling your tummy with freshly made delicious soba noodles.
Hours：Dec. to Feb. 10:00 am - 5:00pm / Mar. to Nov. 10:00am – 5:30pm
Closed ：Dec. to Feb. Tuesdays (if holiday, following day) / Mar. to Nov. Open every day Address：1431 Arakawa Kamitano, Chichibu, Saitama Prefecture
Nagatoro is famous for shaved ice
If you are coming to the area in summer, you should try Nagatoro’s famous shaved ice. Found in 300m from Kami-Nagatoro station, Asami Reizou Kanasaki Honten serves shaved natural ice that is made by the traditional method. The slowly and carefully made natural ice is shaved into smooth, dry ice particles, which is as beautiful as transparent crystals. There are a few options of syrups including the house original syrup made by boiling down refined Japanese sugar, the fruity tangerine syrup, etc. The shaved ice topped with these syrups will certainly refresh your mind and body. However, they are so popular that long line forms in front of the store in summer, and sometimes, the waiting might be as long as 3 hours. Besides this shop, there are so many shaved ice shops around Nagatoro station, so you may be able to find your favorite shop alternatively.
Address: 781-4 Nagatoro Ooaza, Nagatoro-machi, Chichibu-gun, Saitama Prefecture Zip 369-1305
Hours：10:00am – 5:00pm
Find a great souvenir of Chichibu
“Chichibu Mochi of Chichibu Mochi Hichifuku Hompo Mitoya Honten,”
Chichibu Mochi is famous as the Chichibu’s best confectionary. Soft tender mochi is filled with Koshi-an (smooth sweet red bean paste), which is a great light dessert. Their products are so popular and often sold out before evening. Mochi is packaged in a simple plastic bag, presenting a nostalgic atmosphere, but it is very soft, so you should be careful to carry it around.
Address：1-22 Motomachi, Chichibu, Saitama Prefecture Zip368-0044
“Kodai Chichibu Neri-Yokan of Oota Kanchi-do”
Oota Kanchi-do is a long established Chichibu Yokan shop that has been open since 1803, in Edo era. The shop is currently managed by the 10th owner and widely known among connoisseurs of Japanese confectionaries. They keep the traditional method of handmade bean paste; therefore, they do not conduct mass commercialization, so their products are purchased only in Chichibu. They sell three kinds of Yokan: Honneri using white kidney beans, Inaka made of red beans, and Yuzu using white kidney beans and Yuzu (a small citrus fruit, Pomelo). Available sizes are large and small (1/5 of a large). This exquisite Yokan with refined sweetness has won a prize at the National Sweets Exhibition; thus, it makes a perfect souvenir.
Address: 9-2 Kumagi-machi, Chichibu-shi, Saitama Prefecture Zip 368-0032
Official Website: http://www.find-chichibu.jp/db/companies/view/151
“Miso marinated meat of Niku no Marusei”
This product is a thick cut pork loin marinated in miso based seasoning. This style of miso marinated meat was originally started by Chichibu hunters in order to preserve the meat of wild birds and wild animals that they had shot. At Niku no Marusei, they strictly use quality meat and prepare it without any preservatives by the method that has been handed down from generation to generation. The expiration date is in two weeks. The meat absorbs the good flavor of miso very well, so it can be used for sandwiches or enjoyed with shredded cabbage and for other various recipes. When you cook the meat, make sure to cook through inside at medium heat but not to burn the miso sauce. The store is in Ogano-machi, but Nagatoro-ya on the Nagatoro Station Front Street also sell their product, too.
Address: 1821 Ogano, Ooaza, Ogano-machi
Hours of Operation：8:00am-7:00pm
“Chichibu Mayu of Nakamura-ya”
Their puffy marshmallow contains jelly made of “Chichibu maple sugar.” Their maple sugar is made from the maple syrups of the maple trees growing in Chichibu region, which is a rare crop in Japan. It is a perfect combination of the mild sweetness of the maple sugar and the soft marshmallow.
Address: 13-7 Higashimachi, Chichibu, Saitama Prefecture Zip 368-0042
Closed：Open throughout a year
Nagatoro Wi-fi Station
For foreign tourists, Internet accessibility is a very important factor. Lately, at the town of Nagatoro, they have encouraged local stores to offer free wi-fi services to foreign tourists with a help of NTT East Japan, Saitama branch. With their great effort, many stores participate in the project so tourists can enjoy browsing Internet in the town of Nagatoro. To use the free wifi, the different process is required for foreign tourists and for Japanese tourists, so let’s review how to use the free wi-fi for each case.
For Foreign Travelers
1．When you arrive at Nagatoro station, visit the tourist information center in front of the station. Show your passport to obtain the wi-fi ID and Password
2．Follow the direction on the given handout to register
3．Free Wi-fi is available for up to 2 weeks
More Details＞＞ Nagatoro Omotenashi WI-FI Station
1．Download “Japan connected-free Wi-Fi” App in advance where you can connect to the Internet
2．Open the App and register
3．When you arrive at Nagatoro, open the App
4．You can use wi-fi for 15 min, twice per day