Known for its celebrated pilgrimage route dotted with shrines and temples, Chichibu sits amidst towering forested mountains and meadows swaying with wildflowers. It’s also home to Chichibu Night Festival, one of Japan’s top three festivals, which features elaborate floats adorned with tapestries, musical instruments, lanterns and wood carvings.
Things to do in Chichibu
With a few days to spare, you can cover the entire Chichibu Kannon Pilgrimage route to visit 34 temples and shrines, including Kinshoji Temple, which houses hundreds of Buddha statues. Many travellers choose a handful of destinations, one of the most popular being Hodosan Shrine where worshipers seek protection from fire, theft and other calamities.
Wolf worshipers flock to Mitsumine Shrine, entered through a torii gate lined with wolf statues. It’s also home to 800-year-old “God Trees” that reportedly bring good luck to those who touch them.
Spend a couple of hours sightseeing on the Chichibu Railway running through the lush Nakatsu Valley and past towering cliffs and rock formations along the Nakatsu River. Go in the autumn for viewing 10-kilometre swaths of red autumn leaves.
The Chichibu area has its own culinary creations made from local ingredients, including the Okkirikomi udon dish using Chichibu mushrooms, local vegetables and handmade noodles. Another regional dish is miso potato tempura with sweet miso sauce. Snag a table at the Yurin Club near Hodosan Shrine to try kaiseki cuisine using seasonal ingredients.
Getting around Chichibu
Chichibu is accessible from Tokyo in about one hour via the Seibu Ikebukuro line express trains. You can rent a car at the train station in Chichibu or use buses and taxis to get around.