Nagatoro Town – A picturesque retreat
Located about 80 minutes away by train from Tokyo lies the city of Chichibu, a scenic area with beautiful landscapes of mountains, cliffs and picturesque rock beds. You can find many of these magnificent views in the town of Nagatoro, in the north of Chichibu. The entire town is designated as a prefectural nature park and is a relaxing retreat away from the bustling city of Tokyo.
Mount Hodo – Enjoy the seasonal colors through the months
One of the highlights of Nagatoro is Mount Hodo. From Nagatoro station, you can take a shuttle bus that comes every 15-30min (on the weekends) to the foot of the mountain. From there, you can either take the ropeway or hike your way up which takes no more than an hour at a leisurely pace. While Mount Hodo is not the highest peak in Chichibu, you can enjoy the panoramic view of the area, as well as the seasonal colors of the mountain itself. In spring, you can enjoy the sceneries of plums (February to March) and cherry blossoms (April). There are also azaleas blooming in May and Rhododendrons in June. In autumn, the mountain will turn red with maple leaves and in winter (end December to February), enjoy the cheery yellow flowers of robai, known as wintersweet in English. There’s a zoo where you can interact with animals such as monkeys and deer. Besides these, you can also view the rare natural phenomenon “Sea of Clouds” which occurs on a sunny day in Spring or Autumn, after a rainy day in the hours around sunrise.
Hodosan Shrine – One of the oldest shrines in Saitama Prefecture
Around 1900 years ago, when Prince Yamato-takeru-no-Mikoto was climbing Mount Hodo to offer prayers to the Shinto deities. During the climb, a forest fire suddenly occurred, endangering the lives of the group. However, several large black and white dogs came and extinguished the fire. Tanks to the dogs, he safely reached the summit and prayed. This episode is said to be the origin of this shrine. Today, over a million worshippers visit this shrine every year to pray for safety and good fortune. When you climb Mount Hodo, don’t forget to visit the inner shrine at the summit. There, you can find a pair of dog statues guarding the entrance of the shrine.
Iwadatami Shopping Street – Delicious foods galore
Leading up to the rock beds is the Iwadatami Shopping Street. You can find various shops selling local products such as sweet beans (Mame no Ozawa-ya) and pickled vegetables/miso-pickled pork (Manju-an), as well as restaurants serving local specialties such as miso potato and hand-made soba noodles.
Nagatoro Rock Beds (Iwadatami) – Enjoy a leisurely stroll along the river bank
At the end of the street, you will find a staircase leading down to the Arakawa River and the Nagatoro rock beds, 80m wide and 500m long known as Iwadatami, layered rocks resembling tatami mats. You can hike up the rocks (with rest stops along the way) or ride a traditional Japanese boat down the river while enjoying the natural scenery of the rock beds and cliffs. In autumn, the cliffs will be decorated red and orange with the fall foliage. Why not try out whitewater rafting through the Nagatoro rapids or canoeing or kayaking?
Sea of Clouds