Festival Shrines, Permanent Shrines, and Flowing Hot Springs in Chichibu, Saitama

Kanto Tour Saitama 2019.09.11
Stationary or on the move, the shrines of Chichibu are a joy to look at.
Heading to Saitama
Saitama Prefecture, located in Japan's Kanto region just above Tokyo on the map, has the 5th largest population in Japan (7,337,045 in 2019) and a total area of 3,797.75km2, and it also has plenty to offer travelers! Shrines, castles, beautiful natural vistas, traditional culture handed down for generations, and much more, Saitama is an obvious day trip destination from the big city.

The City of Chichibu

Travelers going to Saitama might be aiming for destinations like the Kumagaya Rugby Stadium, Bonsai Art MuseumMoomin Valley Park, and Tobu Zoo, but today we're going to focus on the city of Chichibu, on the western edge of Saitama. With cheerful festivals, colorful shrines, and soothing hot springs, Chichibu offers its own unique adventure.
Chichibu Shrine
  • Chichibu has three main shrines, the Mitsumine Shrine, the Hodosan Shrine, and this one, the Chichibu Shrine. Just two minutes from Chichibu Station, the central location of Chichibu Shrine makes it a convenient destination for a quick bit of sightseeing.
Carved into the facade of Chichibu Shrine's main hall is this famous work featuring a tiger and its cub, carved by famous artist Hidari Jingoro. Carving expert Hidari Jingoro is such a legendary figure in Japan that historians wonder if he may have, in fact, been fictitious! But assuming he was a real person, Jingoro is known for having carved one of the most famous parts of a certain shrine already known for exquisite carvings: the sleeping cat at Nikko Toshogu Shrine in Tochigi Prefecture.

Chichibu Shrine (秩父神社)
1-3 Banbamachi, Chichibu, Saitama
Official Website (jp)
A Festival Exhibition at Matsuri Kaikan
  • The Chichibu Night Festival is held every year in early December, when portable shrines are paraded through the city, heavy with brightly lit lanterns. Two of those "parade floats," and quite a few other festival-related items, are displayed in this museum near Chichibu Station during the rest of the year. In this image you can see a "kasaboko" and a "yatai" being held by model volunteers. December might be a spectacular time to visit Chichibu, but you can experience a little of the event no matter when you arrive.

    Chichibu Matsuri Kaikan / Chichibu Festival Museum (秩父まつり会館)
    2-8 Banbamachi, Chichibu, Saitama
    Official Website (en)

The Chichibu Night Festival

Lasting almost the entire first week of December, the Chichibu Night Festival festival is also registered as Intangible World Heritage by UNESCO. It's one of three similar events in Japan, where shrines are carried through the city like parade floats, the other two being Kyoto's Gion Festival and Takayama Festival in Hida, Gifu Prefecture.
Matsurinoyu Hot Springs & Local Cuisine

Matsurinoyu Hot Springs

Right next to Seibu Chichibu Station, Matsurinoyu is half hot spring facility, and half foodie wonderland.
  • Sample local brews, including famous Ichiro's Malt whiskey, Chichibu-Nishiki sake, and Buko Masamune sake. Or indulge that sweet tooth in shops that sell traditional sweets and Japanese maple syrup. There are also restaurants within the venue that serve waraji katsu-don (Japanese pork schnitzel dipped in sweet soy sauce), and kurumi soba (soba buckwheat noodles with walnut sauce).
  • Once you've digested a little, you can take a dip in the steaming hot spring (onsen/温泉) baths.
  • There are outdoor baths, too!
  • They even have what's called a "relaxation room," for the ultimate post-bath experience, complete with drinks and snacks available for purchase.
Matsurinoyu Hot Springs (祭の湯)
1-16-15 Nosakamachi, Chichibu, Saitama
Bath Access:
Adults: Weekdays 980 yen / Weekends 1,080 yen
Children: Weekdays 600 yen / Weekends 710 yen
Sunday to Thursday 10:00 - 23:00
Friday, Saturday and public holidays 10:00 - 24:00
There's More to Saitama!
This article contained just a snapshot of the Japankuru team's recent trip to Saitama, and a tiny portion of what Saitama has to offer. This summer, escape the boiling heat of the big city, get out of Tokyo and head to nearby Saitama for some off the beaten path travel!
See where Chichibu is in the map below.
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