1. Hodosan Shrine
Hodosan Shrine was awarded one star in the 2011 Michelin Green Guide Japan. It stands at the foot of Mount Hodo and is said to date back nearly 2,000 years. About 1 million worshipers visit the shrine each year to receive protection against fire, theft, and various other difficulties.
Access: 15-minute walk from Nagatoro Station
2. Yurin Club
Yurin Club is a restaurant located three minutes’ walk from Hodosan Shrine. The building is a Japanese house that was constructed in 1928, and guests can admire the view of its elegant Japanese garden from the restaurant. In addition to kaiseki cuisine themed on the four seasons, the restaurant proudly serve dishes created with lavish amounts of seasonal ingredients from Nagatoro and Chichibu.
The Chichibu region has local dishes known as kojuhan, which are eaten when feeling peckish during breaks between bouts of farm work and such. Okkirikomi udon is a dish created from mushrooms grown in Chichibu, locally sourced fresh vegetables and wide, flat handmade noodles. Meanwhile, miso potato is a combination of sweet miso sauce drizzled over potato tempura, which is commonly eaten as a snack or as an hors d’oeuvre. Try both when you visit Chichibu!
3. Nakatsu Valley
Taking the Chichibu Railway from Nagatoro Station, head toward Mitsumine Shrine, the largest tourist attraction in Chichibu. A beautiful vista spreads out before your eyes as you reach the Nakatsu Valley, or Nakatsu-kyo, which is one of Japan’s 100 famous spots for viewing autumn leaves. The views of red leaves extend for a full 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) when they're in season! This spot is also popular for its dynamic landscape. As you go you’ll pass by 100-meter (328-ft) cliffs and rock formations carved into fascinating shapes by the Nakatsu River below.
Access: For the best views, from Mitsumine-guchi Station on the Chichibu Railway, board the Nakatsu River Line Seibu Kanko Bus
4. Mitsumine Shrine
Mitsumine Shrine, the sanctuary of which is deep in the mountains, has a different atmosphere from other shrines. At the entrance to the shrine you'll find a unique torii gate that's actually a combination of three gates. Wolf statues on the left and right sides of the gate are an indication of the many wolves that are worshiped at this shrine.
At an altitude of 1,100 meters (3,609 ft), this is an area that gets a lot of fog. Leave the fog behind and walk about 10 minutes to arrive at the main shrine. With its finely detailed, vividly colored sculptures, Mitsumine Shrine has a beauty that's unparalleled in the Kanto region. Try touching the “God Trees,” which are over 800 years old and can be found on the left and right of the main hall.
Access: From Mitsumine-guchi Station on the Chichibu Railway, board the Nakatsu River Line Seibu Kanko Bus
5. Chichibu Night Festival
The Chichibu Night Festival is considered one of Japan's top three festivals to feature floats, the others being Kyoto's Gion Matsuri and the Takayama Matsuri. Held in early December as Chichibu Shrine's annual festival, it has a history stretching back more than 300 years. Its floats are ornately decorated with lanterns, tapestries and gilded wooden carvings, and move to the accompaniment of music from flutes and drums.
The most exciting scene of the festival unfolds on the evening of December 3, when kasaboko and yatai floats fill the streets as fireworks erupt in the air.
Wadoh is the most famous and longest-standing hotel in Chichibu. It features a panoramic open-air bath where guests can soak in the hot springs while enjoying a view of the red-colored leaves in fall and, since it was renewed in 2015, its rooms are now furnished with beds, a rarity in traditional Japanese inns, or ryokan. In addition, some of the guest rooms are equipped with private open-air baths, so you can choose what kind of room you prefer depending on the purpose of your trip! The interior of the hotel is new as well, and the lobby offers a spacious terrace seating area facing the river. The sunlight feels wonderful here, and we particularly recommend it in the morning!
Particularly delightful are the restaurant’s original dishes and its traditional multi-course kaiseki cuisine. This is an opportunity to enjoy the true pleasures of Japanese cuisine—delicate, beautifully presented, and with an attention to detail that extends to the plates and bowls used for serving each dish. When selecting ingredients, the head chef is particular about using local ingredients, and makes abundant use of seasonal ingredients as well.
Address: 813 Kuroya, Chichibu, Saitama Prefecture 368-0001
Access: From Ikebukuro station, take the Seibu Line for Chichibu and get off there.
Take the Chichibu Line and get off at Wadoh Kurotani Station 10-minutes walk.