Recently Ryosuke and I took a road trip to Chichibu, Japan.
Why? No reason in particular, aside from the fact that we try to go on a short trip (1-3 days) every month somewhere in Japan so we can make videos and blog posts showcasing the area.
Best job ever.
Chichibu city is located in the Saitama prefecture. It is a self-contained valley and popular native Japanese tourist destination, surrounded by gorgeous mountains.
We decided on Chichibu because the name was fun to say (priorities, right?) and we heard the food was amazing. To be honest, it doesn’t matter where we go to in Japan, we always have a great time.
Every prefecture has its own local food, local sights, and warm hospitality. They are all different, in a refreshingly similar way. Chichibu was no exception.
I made two videos during my Chichibu trip, one about the delicious food (below) and one about the temples.
The food in Chichibu was fantastic. There was a nice mix of sweet deserts and savory dishes to choose from.
I especially recommend trying miso potato, dragon’s beard, nozawana oyaki, and waraji katsu (all shown in the video above).
I also wanted to visit Chichibu because of the temple pilgrimage.
The Chichibu 34 Kannon is a sacred pilgrimage of 34 temples that started somewhere in the early 13th century. It runs a bit over 100km and I (foolishly) thought we could do the pilgrimage by car in one day. No, apparently it takes 2-3 days by car or one week by foot.
The majority of the temples are located in urban Chichibu, with a couple scattered out in the mountainside. And unlike the strings of temples I saw in Nikko and Kyoto, the temples in Chichibu are much smaller. They look like any temple you can find out in the countryside, instead of a grand tourist attraction (which I kind of prefer).
They’re also free to enter.
We were able to visit four temples (shown in the video below), to collect temple stamps for my 御朱印 book.
In the four decades, the Chichibu 34 Kannon has seen a boom in tourism. It has been featured by a number of Japanese heritage preservation groups and was used as a setting for a famous Anime (if you watch the video above you can see the scenes from the Anime at temple #10).
And, of course, Chichibu owes its boost in tourism to their convenience public transportation. It’s only 83 minutes from Ikebukuro to Chichibu station, via the express Seibu Ikebukuro line.
It’s close enough to visit for the day but far enough away that it won’t be anywhere as crowded as Nikko and Kawagoe.
The two videos I made were in partnership with the Japan National Tourism Organization – in part with the #MyJapanStory contest. (This: http://myjapanstory.jnto.go.jp/en/ ) You can share your very own beautiful Japan experiences on Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook with #MyJapanStory for a chance to win great prizes!
You can also see other videos entered in the contest (some if then are really awesome!!) here: http://myjapanstory.jnto.go.jp/__curation/en/