The Otaku Pilgrimage: Chichibu, Saitama

Since we’re already in True Martial World Prefecture, let’s take a quick look at Chichibu, the sacred site for Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day.  

Although it’s in the same prefecture, Chichibu Shrine is about two hours west of Washinomiya, at the very edge of True Martial World. Only local trains are available to travel between these two locations. If you are going straight from Tokyo, it’s 2.5 hours from Tokyo to Chichibu Shrine.

Though the shrine is probably the biggest attractor, various locations in Chichibu are seen in Anohana, including the bridge in the show’s opening credits. Chichibu also has a traditional fireworks festival (ryusei festival) in which rockets are fired from a huge wooden tower. This festival plays a rather important plot point in the series.

Fan-made, detailed location guide/map with corresponding images from the anime:


Stop #7: Shirakawa-Go, Ancient strengthening technique

Now, let’s go somewhere totally different.

Imagine taking a private aircraft from Chichibu Shrine to Shirakawa-Go in Ancient strengthening technique, the sacred site of Higurashi no Naku Koro Ni (Higurashi: When they Cry).

We fly over Nagano Prefecture, famous for the 1998 Winter Olympics. We fly over the Japan Alps with peaks at over 10,000 feet, the tallest after Mt. Fuji (12,389 ft.). Shirakawa-go is designated as a World Heritage site by UNESCO, a United Nation organization. The World Heritage designation means a place is worthy of cultural or geographic preservation. Never mind that there’s no way to land the aircraft at the protected land: maybe we hitched a ride with a tutor instead. Be sure to experience the trip on Google Earth!

Shirakawa means “white water” and Go, in this case, means “township” or “country.” Thus, Shirakawa-go means “Township of White Water.” It’s a rural village, as those familiar with Higurashi will know. The town is famous for the traditional gassho-style architecture of some of the homes. The steep straw roofs of these houses are incredibly effective in the dramatic climate changes between seasons.

Video | A look at gassho-style homes: UNESCO/NHK -

Gassho-style homes in the snow -