Chichibu’s Winter Art “Icicles,” Part 3! “Icicles of Onouchi”
Chichibu, of Saitama Prefecture, is famous for its winter “icicles.” So far, I have introduced two famous icicle locations, and this article will feature a third. With this, the “Three Great Icicles” of Chichibu will be completed!
Icicles of Onouchi
Just a short walk through the forest after paying the 200 yen admission fee and you’ll be able to see a wall of ice in front of you!
Every year, from early January through mid-February, man-made icicles created by locals cover the area. The sight of the icicles against the suspension bridge make for quite a picture.
Pipes run throughout the valley, and they spout out water. Between the bitter cold of the winter and the water from the pipes, they create this area’s lovely icicle formations.
Alright, time to cross the suspension bridge that spans the valley.
The ground isn’t too far down from the suspension bridge, but it still makes my legs shake!
Crossing the suspension bridge, you can really see the icicle formations up close. There is more forest path ahead after crossing the bridge, but in the winter it is closed off, so you’ll need to turn back the way you came after crossing.
Not much sunlight reaches into the valley, but the little that does makes the icicles glitter beautifully.
The view of the icicle formations from atop the suspension bridge is definitely the highlight of the area. Every time I tried to snap a picture I got really cold. Be sure to dress warmly!
※There is a vending machine that sells hot drinks and a shop selling basic souvenirs near the entrance to the icicle area.
On Saturday nights from January 21st through February 18th, 2017 (sundown until 20:00), the area is also illuminated. Nearby bus lines do not usually run during the hours of the illumination (it might be possible to just barely catch one on Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays), so you will likely need to rent a car or secure lodging at a nearby inn. The experience will be worth it!
Photograph Taken: January 11th, 2015 (Sunday)
To get to the “Icicles of Onouchi.”
To get to the “Icicles of Onouchi,” you need to take a connecting bus route from the nearby Seibu Chichibu Station. It is a bit of a tough place to access via public transportation, but you can do it with the help of this article! Don’t fret! Incidentally, the following model itinerary works for Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays through the end of February, 2017.
1) Make sure to purchase the “Chichibu Tour Ticket” .
Make sure to purchase the “Chichibu Tour Ticket” (1,900 yen at Ikebukuro Station) at the ticket office of a major station like Tokyo Station or Ikebukuro Station. This ticket lets you take a round trip from Ikebukuro to Seibu Chichibu (free access to stations between Koma and Seibu Chichibu; limited express tickets available for separate purchase for 700 yen each way) and grants you access to main bus lines in the area, making it a great deal (a savings of over 1,000 yen on this trip’s itinerary). The ticket is valid for two consecutive days, so you can stay overnight in Chichibu. It might be a great idea to use this ticket to visit all of the “Three Great Icicles of Chichibu”!
First off, take the 7:30 departure “Red Arrow” from Ikebukuro Station. When you arrive at Seibu Chichibu Station (8:52), exit through the ticket gate. Present your “Chichibu Tour Ticket” at the “Seibu Tour Bus” office to get the “Bus Free Ticket.”
2) Get on the departing bus for “Ogano Shako”.
Get on the 9:17 departing bus for “Ogano Shako” at the #1 boarding area.
3) After about 30 minutes, arrive at the “Ogano Yakuba” stop and Change buses here.
After about 30 minutes, arrive at the “Ogano Yakuba” stop (9:52 arrival). Change buses here. Pictured here is the Ogano Yakuba Tourist Office. Restrooms are also available.
4) Take the first bus to “Sakamoto” fTrom the Ogano Yakuba stop.
At 10:00, take the first bus to “Sakamoto” from the Ogano Yakuba stop. If you wait where you got off from the first bus, the bus to Sakamoto will pull up soon, so making the switchover is easy. It will take about 30 minutes for the bus to reach the stop for “Onouchi Keikoku Iriguchi,” two stops from the final stop on the Sakamoto bus. It may be handy to let the bus driver know where you will be getting off when you first board.
5) Arrive at the “Onouchi Keikoku Iriguchi” stop.
At 10:31, you will arrive at the “Onouchi Keikoku Iriguchi” stop. There’s a small river just by the bus stop after you get off. Follow the paved mountain trail that goes upstream along the river. It is along the left side of this image of the bus stop.
6. Arrive at the entrance to the icicle area.
Walk for about 20 minutes along the sloped paved path (accessible by cars as well). Then you will arrive at the entrance to the icicle area (parking lot available). If you’ve come by rental car, you can get very close to the entrance in your vehicle.
7) Get on the bus for “Ogano Yakuba” and begin the trip back.
At 12:42, get on the bus for “Ogano Yakuba” and begin the trip back. Arrive at Ogano Yakuba at 13:12, then switch buses for the 13:34 departure to Seibu Chichibu Station (going back the same way you came). Arrive at Seibu Chichibu Station at 14:15.
Please come enjoy a visit to Chichibu in the wintertime!!
Seibu Chichibu Bus – Timetable (January 4th through February 28th, 2017) (Red: Saturdays, Sundays, Holidays)
- A: Seibu Chichibu Sta.
- B: Ogano Yakuba
- C: Onouchi Keikoku Iriguchi
- ≪Bus Destinations≫
- O: For Ogano Shako
- K: For Kurio
- S: For Sakamoto
- Y: For Ogano Yakuba
- C: For Seibu Chichibu Sta.
Buses in columns A and B operate once every hour. Please note that buses in columns B and C only operate around 4 times a day.