GW 2017: Chichibu

It’s the first week of May, and once again there are several public holidays in a row to form what is known as Golden Week, the time where almost everyone except the poor souls in sales jobs can have five days off in a row, or take a couple of days paid leave to extend their time off to a whopping 9 consecutive days.

This year, I decided to take a trip an hour and a half north of Tokyo to take a look at the shibazakura, or as they’re apparently called in English moss phlox. A 10 minute walk from Chichibu station in Saitama prefecture is Hitsujiyama Park, home to more than 400,000 moss phlox plants of nine different colours (but mainly pink).

An easy day trip from Tokyo, you can reach Chichibu by limited express train from Ikebukuro in 70 minutes, or as I found out when arriving at the station to find all the express tickets sold out (bloody Golden Week!) about 110 minutes by local train. 

In the park, there were plenty of stalls for food and drink, selling traditional festival fayre like yakisoba (fried noodles), takoyaki (octopus balls), and udon (noodles).  However, as you can see in the park shade was a little scarce, and although there was a small shaded area to eat there wasn’t much out the back either, so be careful with the sun!

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Hanami 花見

Easter weekend this year was Helen’s birthday, and she came from Hong Kong to visit me for the weekend. It was the first time we’d seen each other since Christmas, and it was so good to see her again! As luck would have it, her visit coincided with cherry blossom season, where all the trees are covered in beautiful pink sakura, and it really was a sight to behold!

The Japanese like to go to the local park, throw a big blue tarpaulin on the floor under a tree and eat, drink and be merry with their friends. Helen and I went to Inokashira Park in Kichijoji about 10 mins away from my house, and sat on a bench to have a picnic. It was pretty cold though so we soon ran inside to have a hot chocolate to warm up again! Anyway, here’s some of our pictures.