Chichibu 34 Kannon temples pilgrimage, day 4

Fuji Neopan Acros 100 at EI 100, developed in HC-110 dilution E for 7 minutes. Agitation: 2 inversions every 30 seconds.

Above: Kannon hall at Temple #32

With only four temples left on my itinerary after a long third day, I was getting a bit into trouble as I was running out of time. Normally the last four temples take 2 days to visit with trips by infrequent buses or by taxi but I had only one day left of my vacation before I had to start to make my way to Narita to catch the plane back to Europe.  Luckily, our friend could take a day out of her busy schedule and drive us to the last of the temples. Kannon-sama immediately rewarded her with the most perfect autumn day and beautiful autumn colours in the mountains around Chichibu.

Fuji Neopan Acros 100 at EI 100, developed in HC-110 dilution E for 7 minutes. Agitation: 2 inversions every 30 seconds.

Above: Kannon hall at Temple #31

My route this day was: Temple #32 U+2192.svg Temple #31 U+2192.svg Temple #33 U+2192.svg Temple #34.

There is a reason these are the last of the temples on the pilgrimage: These are the most beautiful of the pilgrimage and they are a reward for the effort of the whole pilgrimage.

The wooden Kannon hall at Temple #32 is half built into the rock and has an awesome veranda.  I climbed all the way to the top of the mountain ridge where a Kannon statue is placed, quite an adventure to reach this statue as you had to pull yourself up for the rock face with help of old iron chains and faded steps people had hacked out in the rock ages ago.
Coming down from the temple, we ran into a little old lady who was collecting ginkgo nuts, I described the encounter here.

The sanctum of Temple #31 came as a reward after climbing the 200 odd steps to reach it. The location with the rock and the waterfall was fabulous.

Reaching Temple #34 felt like an ending and the monk was very kind and interested. We sort of celebrated a bit, taking photos of me with my now completed nokyocho (納経帳) and he threw in a few good luck charms for free for good measure. Maybe the Japanese pilgrims are a bit more solemn but it felt great having completed the task I set for myself.
Afterwards we went to Mangan-no-yu, the nearby onsen, to relax and recover.

I felt really great for having completed the pilgrimage, but it felt a bit awkward for having taken the car for the last four temples, but then again, the description suggest buses or taxis for these temples which comes down to the same thing. The whole experience was very rewarding mainly because it finally, after all these years of visiting Japan, brought me into contact with so many Japanese people. All thanks to the kind people of Chichibu.

It has now become clear to me: we, as tourists, spend way too much time in the large cities and then we all visit the same famous shrines or temples and we think we visited Japan.  Tokyo – Kyoto – Osaka – Hiroshima – Tokyo is the standard itinerary and if we are adventurous, we throw in Takayama as well or join the large crowds at the temples in Nara.
Having lived in Holland, France, the UK and Sweden, I think I know the romantic image people have of Japan and why so many return slightly disappointed and convinced their image of Japan was just a pipe dream. People should break out of the mould and visit the Japanese countryside; that’s where the true Japan is to be found! That’s where Japan still exists!

9 thoughts on “Chichibu 34 Kannon temples pilgrimage, day 4”

  1. I just want to thank you for your writing on the Chichibu 34 Kannon Pilgramage. My husband and I are thinking of doing the pilgrimage this Oct for our 10th year of wedding anniversary. I’m glad to have found your site which gave me some ideas on planning for the trip. Thank you very much and I shall be very glad should you have more to share with us.

  2. I also want to thank-you. In fact, I live in Chichibu, and am in the process of putting together a sort of “cyberpilgrimage” as well as translating the Japanese map into English. Your article has been a light along the way. I’d love more input from you if you are up to it. I can thank-you formally on whatever Kannon is leading me to create. Please contact me if you would be interested in having some input. I love your simple, from the heart style, and I’m sure any further contributions from you would be a big asset.
    Ashley Yoshida

  3. Dear Hans- thank you so much for documenting your Chichibu temple pilgrimage with story and photos. I will be returning to Japan in November 2017 for the third time for 2 weeks and wanted to do a walking pilgrimage, but Shikoku was too extended for my time frame. I agree that it’s important to get out of the cities. I fly in and out of Tokyo, but have never been interested in being a tourist there. In 2015 I spent a month based in Kyoto, but spent quite a bit of time taking buses to northern mountain areas to visit shrines and temples. Your chronicles are so inspiring. Best-Kathy

  4. Hi! Thanx a lot for this page it’s very helpfull! Is there a special reason why u didn’t sleep on the way and would always take a bus or a train back to ur accomodation? Is there nowhere to sleep on the road?? Could you also pass on Ashley Yoshida’s email adress if she agrees?( the one that left the 2nd comment on this article) i would like to ask her about that map she was willing to write! ( i don’t have an android phone 🙁 ) Thanx a lot ! Take care!

    1. The reason I commuted back to where I was staying was that I was staying at friends with my wife while walking the pilgrimage alone. It would have made more sense to stay at a ryokan or at beautiful Taiyo-ji temple, but for personal reasons it made more sense to return to where I was staying. Chichibu is very nice and pretty much still undiscovered by the tourists, certainly worth a stay.
      Because of the GDPR, I cannot give you the credentials of Ashley but I’ll let her know that you reached out to her.

    2. Hi Fanny,

      You can email me at: If you search for Airbnb Chichibu there are some good places to stay. Taiyoji is pretty near, and there are a lot of onsen hotels in the area. They are pretty expensive though. Taiyoji is 9,000 yen per night pp per night including dinner, breakfast, Zazen, shakyo and rotenburo. The cheapest Airbnb I know of is 7,000 yen per night. I will be happy to help you in any way that I can if you are planning on doing the pilgrimage.

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