Chichibu: a hidden gem awaits you.

A land of mystery, spirituality and tradition awaits you in Chichibu, the Kanto region’s hidden gem. Join pilgrims past and present as you weave your way across Chichibu’s beautiful rural landscape, delving deep into the rich history and culture that makes this such a unique and unforgettable location. 

Chichibu is home to 34 temples, included within the popular pilgrimage route of 100 sacred Japanese Kannon Temples, along with the 33 temples of Saigoku and the 33 temples of Bando. The 34 Chichibu temples stretch across a 100km circuit (starting with Shimanbeji and ending with Suisenji) which takes pilgrims across Chichibu City, Yokoze Town, Minano Town and Ogano Town within Chichibu county. 

Frontal view of the 28th temple, Hashidatedo Temple.
A soba noodle shop in front of Hashidatedo Temple.

Temple 28 – Hashidatedo Temple

The 28th temple of the Chichibu pilgrimage, the main object of worship at Hashidatedo Temple is a rare horse-headed figure of the Bato Kannon believed to have been crafted during the Kamakura period and displayed within a crimson lacquered Edo-period Kannondo hall. 

One of the most unique features of this temple is the accompanying Hashidate Limestone Cave, located on Mount Buko’s western edge and the only tourist cave in the entire prefecture. Below the rock cliff that hosts the cave sit the “Iwakage Ruins”, where people lived during the ancient Jomon period. 

Worshippers visiting the 28th temple on the Chichibu route are welcome to explore the cave’s natural geological wonders, following down dark, narrow tunnels before emerging, reborn, in an experience that pilgrims regard as deeply spiritual. 

The entrance of the 32th temple, Hoshōji Temple.
A ‘Hannya’ (般若) mask a the entrance of Hoshoji Temple.
‘Senjafuda’ (千社札, literally “thousand shrine tags”) with the names of the worshippers.

Temple 32 – Hoshoji Temple 

Boasting spectacular views across the surrounding mountainous, forest landscape, Chichibu’s Hoshoji Temple is truly one of a kind. 

The temple’s Kannondo hall, built over 300 years ago, is home to a statue of the sacred Avalokitesvara Kannon, while a stunning statue known as the “Boat Kannon” is enshrined within the temple’s mountaintop Okunoin inner sanctuary.

The perfect site for taking stunning photographs, the image of the Boat Kannon standing tall above the treetops is striking, while the statues carved into the rocks surrounding the temple perfectly encapsulate the spiritual and natural elements that meant so much to pilgrims of the past and continues to hold great significance today. 

Scarecrows in the village of Niegawajuku.
A scarecrow enjoying relaxing outside the house.

Niegawajuku Scarecrow Village

Looking for a way to rejuvenate their village as the local population moves into old age, the residents of Niegawajuku Village in Chichibu came up with an ingenious solution – filling the village and surrounding farmland with over 100 hand-crafted scarecrow people, known as ‘kakashi’. 

You can find the Kakashi scarecrows in various poses and locations around the village, with some ‘grandpa’ scarecrows reclining on benches outside of local shops and cafes while the scarecrow children playing on old ploughs in the surrounding farmlands. 

Far from the intimidating scarecrow images of the west, the hand-stitched residents of Niegawajuku are full of charm, and make for some fantastic and unique photograph opportunities. 

This is one unique destination not to be missed! 

The Chichibu region in Saitama Prefecture comprises of Chichibu City and the towns of Yokoze, Minano, Nagatoro and Ogano, and lies just around 80 kilometers from Tokyo. Easily reachable within 2 hours by car or train, Chichibu is the perfect rural, authentic escape from the busy, electronic metropolis of Tokyo. 

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