Regardless of the season, there is always something to see at Chichibu, located in Saitama Prefecture and home to many cultural hotspots. What’s more, this gem is so near Tokyo you can easily schedule a day trip to see what Chichibu has to offer.
What to do in Chichibu, a place filled with cultural treasures
Let’s categorize the destinations per season and those you can visit all year round so you can quickly jump to the itineraries depending on your time in the area. Since Chichibu, the largest municipality in Saitama Prefecture, is just about two hours away from Tokyo, you can conveniently schedule a weekend trip to explore its natural landscapes, festivals, and history.
Chichibu travel spots in spring
Spring is all about flowers blooming and trees flaunting their greenery. At Hitsujiyama Park, you can bask in the moss phlox phenomenon from mid-April to early May. The landscape is filled with the bright pink moss known as shibazakura (Japan’s other sakura). The different shades of pink under the lush green background serve as a perfect backdrop for Instagram-worthy photos.
You can also check out the Mitsumine Shrine at the peak of Mount Mitsumine. It is a destination for mountain worship. The triple Torri gate that greets visitors is a very rare style featuring elaborate carvings of the imperial family. The shrine also has a small pavilion overlooking the nearby mountains. After a day of immersing in nature, you can visit the adjoining Japanese inn and the Mitsumine-jinja Kounkaku for a hot spring bath.
Summer must-visit spots in Chichibu
Beat the heat by staying close to the rivers in Chichibu. Take a river cruise in traditional boats with no motors on the Arakawa River for ¥1800 (short course) or ¥1,800 (short course), or 3,300 (combination course). You can also enjoy fishing, camping, BBQ, and obstacle courses in the area.
Another water-related activity is enjoying the Chichibu Kegon Falls, about 600 meters away from the Suisenji Temple. It is often the topic of camera lenses for professional and amateur photographers.
Enjoy Chichibu in the fall
Considered one of the top, must-see natural landscapes in Chichibu are the autumn leaves. From mid-October to early December, the area becomes a scenic destination. You can cruise through the Nagata Valley surrounded by the deep orange leaves while the Tsukinoishi Momiji Park has beautiful illuminations to celebrate the season.
Meanwhile, at the Urayama Dam, the second tallest concrete gravity dam in Japan, you get a bird’s eye view of Chichibu’s autumn beauty.
Not too cold to discover Chichibu in winter
Once the temperature drops, Chichibu’s Icicles of Misotsuchi (available mid-January to mid-February in cold winters) take center stage. Another must-visit is the Chichibu Night Festival, considered the top festival in the area, filled with fireworks, floats, delicacies, and more. Since the festival, happening on December 2 and 3, is highly popular, it is advised to get to the Chichibu Shrine early for good views. You can also opt for a less congested option at the big screen in front of Seibu Chichibu Station, which broadcasts the festival.
All-year destinations in Chichibu
Although there are certain destinations in Chichibu that happen only once a year, like a winter wonderland crystals by a mountainside, there are other spots to enjoy, regardless of the season. For example, the Nakatsu Gorge, a ten km-long river valley on the Nakatsu River, is said to be a scenic destination for hiking, providing trekkers with a beautiful environment in all four seasons. You can bring your own gear and camp outdoors or choose one of the many accommodation facilities in the area.
Another noteworthy spot is the Seibu Chichibu Nakamise Street, known as a shopping hub for tourists and locals alike. You can find local delicacies like sake steamed buns, mochi, or craft beer from Chichibu Brewing. What’s more, many consider this bustling street to be an excellent place to kill time while waiting for a train to arrive. You can also do your last-minute souvenir shopping here. Unlike the grandiose shopping districts of Tokyo, the Nakamise Street is more homey and cozy, making it more conducive to relaxing and enjoying your time while you stroll.
There you have, yet another hidden gem in Japan that is easily accessible if you’re coming from Tokyo. There are many more spots not mentioned above for you to discover and enjoy. You can check out the Chichibu Tourism Website here.