Chichibu Railway

  • Published on : 24/01/2017
  • by : Japan Experience

The Chichibu Railway is a scenic railway that runs from Mitsumineguchi Station to Hanyu taking in many famous sights of Saitama Prefecture.

Chichibu Railway Train

Chichibu Railway Train

@Wikimedia

From Koma Station, for example, you can easily walk to the Kinchakuda, in late September Japan's biggest higanbana field, or hike up nearby Mount Hiwada which offers great views towards Tokyo's skyscrapers.

From Koma Station, ancient Koma Shrine is also within hiking distance.

Ashigakubo Station on the same line offers access to an artificial ice-covered forest, the Ashigakubo Tsurara, in winter and access to a great number of mountain hiking paths in all hiking seasons.

Yokoze Station finally is the access stop for people who want to hike up Mount Buko, the signature mountain of the Chichibu area.

Koma Shrine

Koma Shrine

@Wikimedia

The Seibu Red Arrow Limited Express travels on the same tracks and goes straight from Ikebukuro to Seibu Chichibu. It's faster (74 minutes from Ikebukuro to Seibu Chichibu) but obviously, as an express train, it doesn't offer the possibilities to explore sites available to the passengers of the local Seibu Chichibu Line.

Both the Seibu Chichibu Line and the Red Arrow Express terminate at Seibu Chichibu Station. Chichibu City itself, an old industrial town turned into a rustic tourist spot, offers many sights including Chichibu Shrine and the Meisenkan silk factory museum.

Red Arrow Train

Red Arrow Train

@Wikimedia

In direction Mitsumineguchi Station, the train travels through wild mountain areas along the Arakawa River. From Mitsumineguchi Station, you have access to Mitsumine Shrine and the icicles of the Misotsuchi no Tsurara by connecting buses.

Traveling towards Hanyu, you soon get to the remnants of the ancient copper mines of Wadokuroya. A large Wado Kaichin coin replica on the Wadokuroya station platform points out the history of the area. The Wado Kaichin were Japan's first coins, minted here in the early 8th century and used to finance the construction of the then new capital of Japan, Nara.

Mitsumine Shrine

Mitsumine Shrine

@Wikimedia

 

Nagatoro is not far behind, an especially scenic town, famous for its Funadama River Festival in mid-August, featuring brightly lit riverboats and a giant fireworks. The festival takes place at the Iwadatami, a rock platform adjacent to the Arakawa Gorge, a sight worth visiting all year. At the Iwadatami, riverboat cruises are also available.

Nagatoro is also the access point for Mount Hodo, famous for its views over to the Gunma mountains and for its plum and robai gardens, blossoming in mid-winter.

Nagatoro Station

Nagatoro Station

@Japan Visitor

Chichibu Railway keeps its traditions alive by running a steam train on its line, the Paleo Express.

The Paleo express runs only on weekends, public holidays and certain weekdays in peak vacation season. The Japanese-language website of the Chichibu Railway features a calendar marking each day the train will run. Days marked green are weekdays with the train in operation, pink days are weekends and holidays, orange days indicate special events.

Tickets must be bought or booked in advance. Reserved seat tickets can be purchased at JR East ticket offices.

However, non-reserved seats mean that a seat is not guaranteed. The Chichibu Railway does not accept SUICA or PASMO cards.

Paleo Express

Paleo Express

@Wikimedia

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