Portable Shrines and Permanent Shrines in Chichibu, Saitama

Kanto Tour Chichibu 2019.09.11
Stationary or on the move, the shrines of Chichibu are a joy to look at.
Heading to Saitama

Just Where Are We Going?

Saitama Prefecture, located right above Tokyo on the map, is the prefecture with the 5th largest population in Japan at 7,337,045 (as of August 1, 2019). It has a total area of 3,797.75km2 and it belongs to the Kanto region, a major commuter suburb of Tokyo.

Saitama has plenty to offer visitors, including the Kumagaya Rugby Stadium, Bonsai Art MuseumMoomin Valley Park and Tobu Zoo, but today we're focusing on Chichibu.

About Chichibu

Here are the facts: Chichibu is a city on the western edge of Saitama, with a population of about 62,223 people (0.8% of the whole prefecture) all living in a region of 577.83km2 (15% of the whole prefecture).
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 makes it a convenient destination.
  • A wood-carved tiger rasing its child in the front of the main hall building.
    A wood-carved tiger rasing its child in the front of the main hall building.
    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. Hidari Jingoro, who is such a part of legend that historians wonder if he may have, in fact, been fictitious, is also known for the exquisite Sleeping Cat piece carved into the Nikko Toshogu Shrine in Tochigi Prefecture (famous for its carvings).
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.

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
Bath Access:
Adults: 980 yen on weekdays and 1,080 yen for weekends and public holidays or other event days.
Children: 600 yen on weekdays and 710 yen for weekends and public holidays or other event days.
Hours:
Sunday to Thursday from 10:00 to 23:00 (last entry at 22:30)
Friday, Saturday and public holidays from 10:00 to 24:00 (last entry at 23:30)
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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