Written by Ramona (GREATERTOKYO_Explorer)
SEIBU 1Day Pass - Spend A Fun-Filled Day In Chichibu And Nagatoro!
Chichibu, famous for its beautiful scenery, and Nagatoro, a popular place for river rafting, are the favorite day trip destination of many Tokyoites. The most cost-efficient way to travel here is by using the SEIBU 1Day Pass + Nagatoro (1,500 yen)!
Chichibu - An Exciting Destination Near Tokyo
Chichibu is a nature-filled area in Saitama Prefecture. Best known for the pink moss blooms that cover the whole area of Hitsujiyama Park in spring, as well as for being the setting for two popular anime movies, Chichibu is one of the favorite day trip resorts of the Tokyoites.
The ideal trip to Chichibu includes the nature views, local food, and activities that this area is famous for. We introduce an itinerary that takes us to Nagatoro, best known as a destination for river rafting, to a beautiful ancient shrine, and even to Chichibu's hot springs!
The most convenient way to travel to Chichibu from Tokyo is by using the SEIBU 1Day Pass + Nagatoro (1,500 yen), a cost-efficient ticket that allows unlimited train rides on the Seibu Lines (*1) for one day. (*The limited express fee is not included.)
*1... Except for the Tamagawa Line.
8:10 - Arrive at Ikebukuro Station and Purchase the SEIBU 1Day Pass + Nagatoro
Chichibu can be reached directly from Tokyo's Ikebukuro Station by using the Seibu Line Red Arrow Chichibu Limited Express.
The SEIBU 1Day Pass can be purchased from the SEIBU Tourist Information Center Ikebukuro, which is located within the Ikebukuro Station, right near the East Exit.
At this information center, you can get information on all the beautiful places worth visiting along the Seibu Lines in western Tokyo and Saitama Prefecture.
The SEIBU 1Day Pass is available in several versions: the SEIBU 1Day Pass (1,000 yen), the SEIBU 2Day Pass (2,000 yen), the SEIBU 1Day Pass + Nagatoro (1,500 yen), and the SEIBU 2Day Pass + Nagatoro (3,000 yen). In addition to unlimited train rides on the Seibu Lines, the Nagatoro versions of the ticket also cover the train transportation in the Nagatoro area.
This time, we recommend choosing the SEIBU 1Day Pass + Nagatoro. In order to be able to ride the Chichibu-go Limited Express, you also need to buy a seat ticket (700 yen). This procedure can also be done at the information center.
After purchasing your tickets, go through the ticket gates and head to platform 1. The Chichibu-go Limited Express departs from here at 8:30 for Chichibu. After a pleasant one hour and 20-minute ride, you'll reach Seibu Chichibu Station at 9:52.
9:55-10:10 -- Visit the Chichibu Tourist Information Center
Before starting your adventure in Chichibu, how about stopping by the Chichibu Tourist Information Center, which is located right in front of the Seibu Chichibu Station?
In addition to general information on Chichibu's beautiful sightseeing spots, you can find out whether there are special events or festivals on the day of your visit. If you have the chance, do consider taking part in a local event. It will become a precious memory of your trip to Chichibu.
10:18-10:39 -- Travel to Nagatoro Station
To reach Nagatoro Station, you'll need to take a train from Ohanabatake Station on the Chichibu Railway Line.
Ohanabatake Station is located about 5 minutes away on foot from Seibu Chichibu Station. After exiting Seibu Chichibu Station, please head to the left and follow the signing on the way to reach Ohanabatake Station.
10:50-11:40 -- An Exciting Boat Ride Down the River! Nagatoro River Rafting
Nagatoro is one of the few places near Tokyo where visitors can enjoy river rafting in traditional boats. Nagatoro River is a branch of Arakawa River, one of the longest and largest rivers in eastern Japan.
There are three courses to choose from: the A Course (3 km, from Oyahana Bridge to Iwadatami), the B Course (3 km, from Iwadatami to Takasago Bridge), the Full Course (6 km, from Oyahana Bridge to Takasago Bridge). Each of these courses includes rapids and unique scenery.
The tickets for Nagatoro River Rafting can be purchased from the ticket office located behind Nagatoro Station (pictured above). We chose the A Course, so we were first transported by bus to Oyahana Bridge, the departure point of this course.
The first few hundred meters down the river are a very smooth ride. The two boatmen, standing at the front and the rear of the boat, explain what are the charming points of the surroundings.
When the boat gets close to the rapids, they announce everyone on the boat to lift the plastic sheet that protects the inside of the boat from getting wet. The boatmen skillfully steer the boat so that it goes through the rapids as smoothly as possible.
There are many impressive rock formations and even waterfalls along the way. If you visit during the fall, you'll be able to enjoy the beautiful contrast created between the warm colors of the leaves and the blue depths of the river.
This gorge is one of the scenic spots that made Nagatoro famous as a day trip destination.
11:50-12:50 -- Lunch at Irorian Hanamizuki
After arriving at Iwadatami, climb the stone stairs that lead to the shopping street. Irorian Hanamizuki, the dining place we recommend for lunch, can be reached in less than 5 minutes on foot from the Iwadatami riverbank.
Irorian Hanamizuki is a restaurant located within the Hana no Omotenashi Choseikan, a well-established ryokan (pictured above).
Irorian Hanamizuki is an elegant restaurant with a traditional atmosphere. In the center of the facility, there is an irori (a sunken hearth), which is actually used for cooking some of the dishes offered to the guests.
To first-time visitors to Nagatoro, we recommend the Zuriage Udon No no Hana Course (2,500 yen), a set that allows the guests to taste a bit of all the delicious cuisine that is representative of Nagatoro: udon noodles, fresh sashimi, tofu, fish (fried sweetfish), and wagashi sweets for dessert.
The udon noodles are being brought to the table raw and the guests should cook them themselves in the pot at the center of the table. You know they're ready thanks to a sandglass. After the noodles are ready boiled, you'll be using a special wooden ladle to scoop the noodles in your own plate. The entire process is a fun experience in itself that will add to the memorable experiences of the day.
13:10-14:00 - Visit a Shrine with Ancient Roots - Hodosan Shrine
Hodosan Shrine, located about 10 minutes away on foot from Nagatoro Station, is one of the famous places in the area. Boasting a history that goes back to the first centuries of our era, it enshrines three deities: Emperor Jinmu, the mountain deity Ooyamazumi-no-Kami, and the fire deity Homusubi-no-Kami.
This shrine is visited by many persons at every time of the year, being sought for protection against fires, theft and other troubles, as well as for blessings in human relationships.
One of the reasons of this shrine's popularity is the sheer beauty of its grounds. The main hall itself is decorated with very detailed, beautiful wooden carvings that illustrate old myths.
Take the time to explore the grounds and you'll be impressed by the dignified atmosphere that enshrouds this ancient shrine.
During the fall season, the shrine grounds become tinted in warm colors that enhance the beauty of this place. Take a few minutes to check out the talismans and the luck diving papers of Hodosan Shrine. They are ideal as keepsakes from your visit to this shrine.
14:00-14:40 -- An Excellent Local Taste! Asami Reizo's Natural Shaved Ice
Asami Reizo is a store that has been producing and selling ice since 1890. The ice is created through traditional methods, by storing clean spring water in an artificial pool that freezes during the winter months. The ice is the cut out in pieces and stored for the rest of the year. It is used for making a dessert that is dear to everyone in Japan: shaved ice.
Shaved ice is a traditional dessert that has been enjoyed for many centuries in Japan. The soft, tender texture of the ice is quite surprising. Add some syrup and it becomes a delicious treat!
At Asami Reizo, they offer shaved ice with traditional flavors such as matcha green tea and red bean jam, but also contemporary flavors such as fruit syrup (berries, yuzu citrus, persimmons, and others). You can also taste season limited flavors such as sakura in spring and umeshu (plum wine) in winter. All the syrups are made using only natural ingredients so you will be able to taste the true flavors of the fruit.
Shaved ice goes great with hot coffee so how about stopping at Asami Reizo for a break?
To return to Ohanabatake Station near Seibu Chichibu Station, take the 15:18 train from Nagatoro Station. You will reach Ohanabatake Station at 15:40.
15:45-17:20 -- Relax at the Hot Springs and Find Souvenirs at Matsuri no yu
Matsuri no yu is a hot spring complex adjacent to Seibu Chichibu Station. In addition to a dining place and souvenir shop, the facility also includes hot springs baths! So how about taking a dip to relax after a day of sightseeing? Bath towels and other amenities are provided, so you really don't need to bring anything. If you visit in the cooler months of the year, the hot springs will feel like a true blessing.
The dining area has several counters where you can order any type of Japanese food you would like to enjoy, from rice bowls with various toppings to noodle dishes.
Any visitor will be thrilled by the souvenir shop! The section with local products, snacks and sweets occupies the largest area. You will really feel spoiled for choice! When it comes to local sweets, Chichibu is famous for mochi (glutinous rice) cakes and cookies made with local fruit.
There are sections with cosmetics, local crafts, and even local alcoholic drinks. Chichibu boasts excellent wine, whiskey, and sake brands. If you're curious, you can even taste some of the drinks before making a purchase.
Matsuri no yu has rapidly become a landmark of Chichibu, gathering the best of what this nature-rich area has to offer.
17:25-18:47 -- Return to Tokyo
If you wish to enjoy the hot springs of Matsuri no yu at leisure, feel free to consider taking the 18:25 limited express train for Ikebukuro Station. If you're satisfied with buying souvenirs, then the 17:25 train might be the best choice. Please remember to stop by the ticket office and reserve your seat on the limited express train.
Chichibu and Nagatoro are full of charm and visiting at any time of the year will surely be a memorable trip. If you wish to travel here, remember to use the extremely convenient SEIBU 1Day Pass.
Ikebukuro Station → Seibu Chichibu Station → Ohanabatake Station → Nagatoro Station → Nagatoro River Rafting → Lunch at Irorian Hanamizuki → Hodosan Shrine → Asami Reizo → Nagatoro Station → Ohanabatake Station → Matsuri no yu → Seibu Chichibu Station → Ikebukuro Station
Transportation: SEIBU 1Day Pass + Nagatoro (1,500 yen), Limited Express fee (roundtrip) 1,400 yen
Nagatoro Line Rafting: 1,600 yen
Lunch, snacks, souvenirs: around 4,000 yen
To find out more about other great sightseeing spots that can be explored using the SEIBU 1Day Pass, please refer to this website: https://www.seiburailway.jp/railways/tourist/english/
Supported by Seibu Railway