Saitama tourism: Buddhism and connecting with culture in Chichibu
Sawako Utsumi and Lee Jay Walker
Modern Tokyo Times
Chichibu in the prefecture of Saitama is approximately 85 minutes away from the central parts of Tokyo. Hence, if you seek to fuse mountain landscapes, spirituality, outdoor sports connected to mountains and rivers, and a slower pace of life, the region of Chichibu is a perfect place to explore.
The Chichibu-Tama-Kai National Park continues to attract tourists all year round. While the religious pilgrimage angle of Buddhism and Shintoism throughout the region of Chichibu is also a great way to find hidden gems while searching for temples and shrines to visit.
In Chichibu city – and the three towns of Ogano, Minano, and Yokoze in the county of Chichibu – you have a Buddhist pilgrimage that dates back to the early thirteenth century. This Buddhist pilgrimage concerns the Chichibu 34 Kannon Sanctuary (Chichibu Sanjūyon-kasho) that unites all 34 temples into a complex pilgrimage route.
Each Buddhist temple, some are minor, provides something unique to witness while connecting with spirituality. Indeed, the beauty of Chichibu is the Shinto angle is also extremely important. Hence, the Buddhist and Shinto angle also opens-up many hidden gems while seeking to find temples and shrines. These concern restaurants, small cafe places to enjoy, shops selling cultural items, traditional Japanese cakes, and so much more.
Overall, the Buddhist pilgrimage angle – and the importance of Shintoism in the environs of Chichibu – equates to a powerful spiritual angle. This spiritual angle also fuses naturally with culture and history. Therefore, your visit to Chichibu – irrespective of mountain treks, water sports, and others – is blessed by the religious dynamics of this lovely part of Japan.
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