Chichibu, city (1990 pop. 60,915), Saitama prefecture, central Japan, on the Ara River. It is a center for the manufacture of silk fabrics. Rich reserves of limestone and iron ore in the area support the city's cement and construction stone industries. The city's Chichibu (Shinto) Shrine is a major tourist attraction.
For the brother of the Shōwa Emperor, see Prince Chichibu.

is a city in Saitama, Japan. As of November 1, 2006, the city has an estimated population of 71,721. The total area is 577.69 km².

Chichibu was incorporated as a city on April 1, 1950, although the region had already existed for hundreds of years and had developed many local traditions. Since that time, the area of the city has grown through a series of mergers, the most recent in 2005.


The city is in the westernmost part of Saitama. Unlike other parts of the prefecture, it is largely mountainous and the population is concentrated in river terraces along the Arakawa River. It is Saitama's largest municipality in terms of surface area and shares borders with Tokyo, Yamanashi, Nagano and Gunma prefectures. Most parts of the city belong to Chichibu-Tama-Kai National Park.

Because the region is not suitable for growing rice, many people have depended on sericulture farming. Limestone from Mount Bukō, which rises south of the city center, is another major source of income for the region. The city is shifting its focus toward sightseeing, taking advantages of its rich natural environment and relative closeness to the Tokyo metropolitan area. The city is also famous for its brewing industry.


The city was developed as a marketplace of the district as well as the town around Chichibu Shrine. The city's older name, Ōmiya ("big shrine"), was derived from the shrine. It is a coincidence that Ōmiya ward of the prefectural capital Saitama, which houses Hikawa Shrine, has the same name.


  • 708: Deposits of the metal copper are discovered in the region and offered to the Imperial Court. The era name Wadō (和銅, meaning "Japanese copper") is proclaimed in recognition of this welcome event in the initial months of Empress Gemmei's reign. The copper is used to mint Wadō Kaihō or Wadō Kaichin, which are amongst the oldest examples of coinage in Japan. -- see image of Wado Kaichin from Japan Mint Museum
  • 1884: The Chichibu Incident: uprising of impoverished peasants under the influence of the Freedom and People's Rights Movement. Seven are sentenced to death and over 4,000 people punished.
  • 1889: Ōmiya town is founded.
  • 1914: Chichibu Railway opens.
  • 1916: Ōmiya town is renamed Chichibu town.
  • 1950: Chichibu town becomes Chichibu City.
  • 1954: Chichibu City absorbs Odamaki, Haraya and Kuna villages.
  • 1957: Chichibu City absorbs Takashino and Ōta villages.
  • 1958: Chichibu City absorbs Kagemori town.
  • 1969: Seibu Railway Seibu Chichibu Line opens.
  • 2005: Chichibu City merges with Yoshida town, Arakawa, and Ōtaki villages.


On December 3, Chichibu holds an annual night festival. It attracts crowds from Chichibu, Saitama prefecture, neighboring Tokyo, and the Kantō region. Kawase matsuri is Chichibu shrine's summer festival. It takes place every July 19 and July 20. Eight groups carrying special dashi floats march along to festival music around the city. Mikoshi (sacred portable shrines) are brought to special places in each neighborhood where they are enshrined. Neighborhood association heads wash the mikoshi in the Arakawa river.

Other attractions of the city include:

Connection with The Mikado

The city considers itself as the inspiration for Gilbert and Sullivan's 1885 comic opera, The Mikado; the name of the opera's setting, "Titipu", is pronounced "Chichipu" in Japanese. Rokusuke Ei, a popular essayist, was convinced that Chichibu, the site of a peasant uprising in 1884, inspired the author, W. S. Gilbert, to set the opera in Japan. Other Japanese researchers have concluded that Gilbert may simply have heard of Chichibu silk, an important export in the 19th Century. A theatre company from Chichibu has presented The Mikado in Japanese in Chichibu and throughout Japan; in August 2006, it travelled with this production to the International Gilbert and Sullivan Festival in Buxton, England.



Two lines serve the city: Chichibu Railway Chichibu Mainline and Seibu Railway Seibu Chichibu Line. Chichibu Railway was constructed along the Arakawa River and first opened in 1914. Seibu Railway reached the city in 1969 and considerably reduced the travel time to Tokyo. It takes approximately one and a half hours to travel from Seibu-Chichibu Station to Ikebukuro Station, one of the major train terminals in Tokyo. These lines carry people as well as limestone from Mount Bukō. The two lines were directly connected on April 1, 1989. Chichibu Railway also had the Mitsumine Ropeway, which carried passengers visiting Mitsumine Shrine. The ropeway has been out of service since May 19, 2006 and will be officially abandoned on December 1, 2007.


Two national roads, Route 140 and 299, serve the city. Route 140 connects the city to its nearest expressway interchange, Hanazono Interchange of the Kan-Etsu Expressway. The city had no road communication to Yamanashi Prefecture due to steep Okuchichibu Mountains, but the opening of the Karisaka tunnel in 1998 enabled the city to connect to Yamanashi.

Famous people raised in Chichibu

Sister cities


Further reading

External links

Search another word or see chichibuon Dictionary | Thesaurus |Spanish
Copyright © 2015, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature