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One of the best tourist destinations in Saitama

The COVID-19 pandemic has not yet shown signs of convergence in Japan, and it might be a long time before we actively welcome international tourists. I hope that one day I will take you to my favorite tourist destination in Saitama Prefecture where I live.

It is said that you can enjoy the Chichibu region of Saitama prefecture no matter what season you visit, but I have never visited it in winter.

After checking the weather forecast on the morning of the 15th of last month after the snowfall, I decided to visit Chichibu in a hurry. It took an hour and a half by limited express from Ikebukuro to Seibu Chichibu Station, the main entrance of Chichibu City.

I wanted to have lunch at the famous miso-seasoned pork bowl restaurant “Nosaka” near the station, but it only offered lunch boxes under a Quasi-State of Emergency, so I bought one and ate it on the bench.

After that, I took a bus from the station for about 75 minutes and arrived at Mitsumine Shrine, which is one of the popular “power spots”, where you can feel spiritual energy, in eastern Japan.

The “white spirit amulets”, famous for being received by Mao Asada, a popular Japanese figure skater, were once distributed on the 1st of every month, but on that day, there was a maximum of 26 km of traffic jam waiting for entry into the parking lot of the shrine, and the bus operation time from Seibu Chichibu Station to the shrine was sometimes up to 8 hours.

A rare three torii gate stands at the entrance of the precinct, and instead of guardian dogs, wolf statues are enshrined in various parts of the shrine.
The shrine, where light snow flutters, was so fantastic that it wouldn’t be strange if a god existed at its precinct.
Mitsumine Shrine is counted as one of the three Chichibu Shrines along with Chichibu Shrine and Hodosan Shrine, but I feel that it is exceptional.
After visiting Mitsumine Shrine for the first time this year, I got off the return bus to Seibu Chichibu Station at a stop on the way and headed for another destination.

“Icicles of Misotshuchi” is a winter work of art created by the nature of Oku Chichibu. The spring water that seeps out of the rock surface freezes little by little due to the cold of midwinter, forming a huge group of icicles.
Breathing air at the cold river seems to wash your heart.
The illumination of icicles from mid-January to mid-February is very fantastic, and if you visit Chichibu during this time, you shouldn’t miss it.
Although it is situated in a very inconvenient area, it was confirmed that it is possible to visit the spot by public transportation.

Saitama Prefecture is rarely said to be an attractive tourist destination in the Tokyo metropolitan area, but international repeaters to Japan are encouraged to consider including the Chichibu region in their itinerary.

YUKI Takano, a member of iTWS japan LLP
e-mail: yuki.takano@i3ws.co.jp

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