Cycling JapanBy Takashi Niwa Translated by Sakae Sugahara
Chichibu is a basin town in western Saitama Prefecture where people come to embark on a pilgrimage to the 34 temples in the area. Visitors have been making the journey here since the Muromachi Period (1336-1573), covering the 100 kilometers it takes to reach all the temples. About two-thirds of the temples are located in urban areas; the rest are in more rural settings.
The cycling route passes shops and storehouses of old merchants in the city and through mulberry fields and rice paddies in the suburbs, making it an enjoyable ride and a fascinating experience.
For those needing a challenge, there are small hills in between as well and, if you want to really feel the history of Chichibu, dress in traditional white clothes and stay at a roadside inn, as the pilgrims who once frequented these lands have done for centuries.