In Japan, we have a 1 week holiday during the end of April till the beginning of May.
The holiday is called “Golden Week”.
Every sightseeing spot during the week is usually full of tourists, so in order to reduce the risk of infection with coronavirus, I visited the Chichibu region, one of the major tourist destinations in Saitama Prefecture where I live, on April 28, just before Golden Week.
The aim was to worship at Mitsumine Shrine and take pictures at Hitsujiyama Park.
- Mitsumine Shrine
It takes about 80 minutes by limited express from Ikebukuro Station in Tokyo to reach Seibu Chichibu Station. The shrine is located in the sacred area in Chichibu-Tama-Kai National Park at an altitude of about 1,100 meters, taking about 80 minutes by express bus from there.
Mitsumine Shrine is one of the three Chichibu shrines along with Chichibu Shrine and Hodosan Shrine.
In front of the hall of worship, there is a rare three torii gate.The wolf is the guardian deity, and instead of guardian dogs, wolf statues are enshrined in various places in the shrine.
The shrine is one of the most popular “power spots”, where you can get spiritual energy, in eastern Japan.
In particular, the white amulets that Mao Asada, a Japanese former competitive figure skater and the 2010 Olympic silver medalist, was said to have benefited from were taken up by the media and became very famous.
The distribution only on the first day of every month of the amulets has been suspended since June 2018 because it has a great impact on the surrounding living environment, such as a large delay in route buses due to long road congestion and suspension of operation.
- Hitsujiyama Park
From the park, you can see the city of Chichibu in the west and the magnificent view of Mt. Buko in the south.About 400,000 moss phlox plants of 9 types are planted in the hill of shibazakura, literally meaning “grass cherry blossom”, and the whole area is painted pink and white from early April to early May.
Moss phlox began to be planted in 2000, and since then it has become more popular and has been visited by many domestic and international tourists.The design of the slope is inspired by the undershirt pattern of a musical accompaniment on a float of the Chichibu Night Festival, which is registered as a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage.
The observatory hill will appear in the opening of a famous anime named Anohana: “The Flower We Saw That Day”.
However, the background has changed, so you cannot see the same scenery as the opening.
Chichibu is a region where you can enjoy the changes of the four seasons throughout the year, such as playing in a clear stream in summer, autumn leaves that are famous in eastern Japan in fall, and icicles in winter, in addition to spring.
I recommend you will stay in Chichibu if you are a repeat traveler to Japan.
Yuki Takano, a member of iTWS japan LLP