Monday, November 30, 2015

Japan Trip Day 7.1: Anohana Pilgrimage to Chichibu

Psst, there are so many photos, therefore read this post in a place with wi-fi unless you have an unlimited quota.

Mo ii kai ?
Are you ready?

Mo ii kai
Are you ready?

Mo ii yo!
Okay, I'm ready!

Have anyone heard about those japanese phrases in manga, anime, TV, or anything else?
It was the phrases used by Japanese when playing hide-and-seek. Yeah, finally I'm ready to publish the coverage of my Japan Trip Diary day 7. There are just too many photos and precious memories on this day so I decided to divide Day 7 into two posts :)

Day 7 is another SUPER anti-mainstream itinerary that I arranged beside the Tanabata Festival in Day 5, because it's a trip to Saitama Prefecture. Yeah, so during my 7 days here in Japan, I managed to touch down in 3 prefectures, which is: Tokyo, Yamanashi, and Saitama.

Credits via Google Images

Have anybody heard about Saitama? It's a prefecture located in the north beside the Tokyo. Well, for anime lovers .... it might be a heaven because it's famous for being the setting location for some popular animes like Anohana, Lucky Star, Crayon Shinchan, Bake Monogatari, and other else.

There are so many cities in Saitama that being used as anime and manga setting. So many, that even Ministry of Tourism in Saitama takes pride in it and make a short official promotion anime, featuring some sightseeing spots in Saitama. There are 4 movies, which represents each seasons: Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter! Please do check it out here (ノ^ヮ^)ノ*:・゚✧

But this time, I chose Chichibu City because it's the setting of Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae o Bokutachi wa Mada Shiranai (We Still Don't Know the Name of the Flower We Saw that Day), or in short: Anohana.

From left to right: Poppo, Anaru, Jintan, Menma, Yukiatsu, Tsuruko

It's a story about a group of six childhood friends named Super Peace Busters. After Menma's death, they drifted apart and thus, the group is disbanded. Several years later, Menma's spirit appeared in front of Jintan and said that she had a wish to be granted so she could pass on peacefully. But this wish only could be done if everyone is together. So, the group is once again reunited to grant Menma's final wish. 

This anime was first aired in 2011, and gained so much popularity. Since then, many people visited the setting location of Anohana which is Chichibu and saw the real version of sightseeing spots which was featured in the anime. Chichibu's economy rised up very much because of this "anime tourism" or  "anime pilgrimage".

The local ministry government appreciated it very much and even held Anohana Festival since 2012. In this festival, people are participating in a stamp rally. They were given maps and went to the designated spots in Chichibu to collect stamps and then trade it with a special Anohana merchandise in the basecamp. On the last day, the artist singer and seiyuu-ka of the anime held a concert and this whole festival is all for FREE. As far as I knew, this festival is still celebrated every year until this year (2015). On this year, they also make use of the festival to promote another anime: Kokosake which is also created by Anohana Project Team, as well as the announcement of Anohana Live Movie!

Anohana Live Movie

Hehhe, to Anohana fans out there, I really recommend you to watch it. 
The live version is very good and ..... tear-jerking party ....

Okay, now if you are wondering how could I knew all of this place? 
Thanks to Google of course! It's only take a bit of curiosity and determination to googling it whether you could find your favourite anime's real life setting. I also send my million of thanks to some bloggers out there which wrote about their anime pilgrimage to Chichibu! I used them as my trip reference and hope I can help you too with this post ^^

From my place in Asakusa, the trip to Chichibu is much longer than to Mount Fuji in Yamanashi Prefecture. First, we need to go to Ikebukuro Station and board the train there to Seibu-Chichibu Station. There are 3 kinds of train there, from the fastest to the slowest: Limited Express, Rapid Express, and Local. Super Limited Express means it only make stops in chosen stations  along the road, while Local means the train will STOP in EVERY stations along the way. Rapid Express is in the between party.

Morning Rush Hour at Ueno Station !
Here is the train route that I took from Asakusa: 
Tawaramachi - Ueno - Ikebukuro - Seibu-Chichibu.
I need to change train into JR line in Ueno to go to Ikebukuro. Well, you could still use Tokyo Metro Subway though ... but it's slightly more expensive and takes longer time. Just check the Hyperdia, and decide which is the best route for you ;)

Finally we arrived in Ikebukuro Station, here is the platform for the limited express train.

For the limited express, you also need to pay your reservation seat beside the transportation fee, making it as 640 ¥ + 780 ¥ . While if you are not using super limited express, you only need to pay 780 ¥. The seat ticket could be purchased in the station.   

Nice and comfy seat :)
Yeah, this is the mistake I've made on that day. I thought that I could just pay the seat ticket by tapping my Pasmo Card at my arrival on Seibu-Chichibu. Cold sweat ran through all of us, when the train officer started walking from behind to check everyone's ticket. So we just kindly explained that we haven't bought the seat ticket yet. The officer was very kind! He understood English quite well and he just smiled, perhaps foreign tourist often make this kind of mistake? Hahha. So we just paid him in cash, and he printed our tickets through portable ticket machine that he brought inside the train.

We were dozing off because of the comfortable seat and also to regain our strength. The limited express ride took about 80 minutes, while the local one could be 110-120 minutes :)

The scenery we saw as soon as we get out of the train

Another funny thing to remember, I almost left my tripod at my seat.
Luckily the train has not departed yet so I hurried back to go inside the train :')

Seibu-Chichibu Station

Although it's categorized as an outskirt area, but I found that Seibu-Chichibu is still fascinating and doesn't lose it charms from modern station in Tokyo. There are so many interesting vending machines!

Pay attention to the left: Food Vending Machine O_o !!!

1st  Spot: Seibu-Chichibu Shopping Street

Let's Go !

As soon as you walk the station exit, there will be a long alley called Seibu-Chichibu Shopping Street. There are so many interesting shops here which sells various goods. It's Shopping Time!

Cute Photo Booth

Anpan-Man Vending Machine

Anohana Souvenir Shop with Anohana Cookie Box in display  :3

I bought the cookies of course since the box is very pretty!

I repeat: The box is SO PRETTY!

I get everyone else's faces except Poppo and Tsuruko :(

Menma's Muffin Bread

OMG, I literally went psychotic here.
There are so many interesting stuffs related to Anohana!
Even the muffin that was made by Menma in the anime. Do you remember?

Look similiar enough ??

Here in Episode 9, Menma make muffin bread like she used to using Jintan's mom recipe. LOL, I don't know how could "ghost" could hold the bowl, ingredients and cooking. I found this scene quite funny because Menma's friends literally couldn't see Menma so they might only saw a bowl floating in the air  (⊙_☉)
Tsuruko and Anaru feeling goosebumps all over :P

Well, they also sell some local snacks that non-related to Anohana :)



Another Muffin Bread!

Chichibu Yomatsuri Advertisement Board

Well actually before Anohana anime was aired, Chichibu was famous in Japan for it's local festival called Chichibu Yomatsuri. You could see a lot of advertisement in here, as well as in the official Saitama Tourism and Japan National Tourism Organization Website. Now Anohana is also adding Chichibu's charm!

Reaching almost the end of the shopping alley

Cute Mini Banner Spotted :3

Anohana Frappuccino ~

Menma Display!

There is Anaru too!

After that we entered a mini exhibition room which display Super Peace Buster's Secret Base!

Super Peace Buster's Secret Base

Kokosake Advertisement

Chichibu was also filled with another new anime by Anohana Project Team which was aired on this September. It was called Kokoro ga Sakebitagatterunda (The Anthem of The Heart) or in the official short name: Kokosake. I haven't watched it yet but it looks promising from the trailer.

Posing with the display, LOL

From left to right: Anohana Cider, Mineral Water, and Ramune

At the very end of the shopping street, there is a large strore specializing only sell Anohana merchandise, from poster, postcard, stationary map, pen, pencil, drinks, magnet sticker, fan, clothes, and even aromatherapy stick. For Anohana fans, I suggest all of you to visit this shop :)

New Poster Design of Anohana promoting a train line!

Summer Fan

Rice Cracker
Super large posters!

This one also posters. Each costs 600 ¥

I got even more satisfied because the shop owner is very thoughtful. Everything you bought will be wrapped by this super cute flower-pattern envelope!!! I still kept the envelope until now.I didn't buy posters but I bought stationary maps which costs 370 ¥/pcs. It's in A4 size and I bought all of the designs hahha. There are 4 designs in total. The girls trio with Chichibu Yomatsuri and Chichibu Shrine as seen in the picture above and all complete members of Super Peace Busters as seen below ^^

Super Peace Busters in Hatsumode Outfit

Super Peace Busters in Summer Holiday

Anyway, you also could get Anohana Map for free in this shop!
This map contains point location of Chichibu scenes which featured in the anime :)

I got it laminated as soon as I arrived in Jakarta :P

Alright, now we are outside the station and decided to follow along the map. Our next destination is the Chichibu Shrine which is also featured in the anime quite a lot!

The road scenery
A lot of road construcion was going on. Suddenly I remembered Jinta who also works part-time in construction site LOL.

When Jinta works in the anime

In opposite with Tokyo's vibe, there are a lot of cars here because it's their main transportation here. The local people also respect pedestrians a lot. There are many times where there are a lot of cars waiting in line before the pedestrian cross, but the driver in the front always smiled and waving his/her hand to us, giving a sign to let us cross the road first. Truly an experience you would never felt in Jakarta. Hahha. Pedestrians are the king of the roads here! The air is fresh and the road is neat and clean. I really enjoy walking here :)

I spotted Poppo's Motorcycle here!

Welcome Sign is all over the roads in Chichibu

Pretty house!

Huh, what is that? I spotted something interesting

It's another public site with Anohana element ^^
This place was just across from the Chichibu Shrine.
It might also to give a sign that the featured location was near.

Just when we are busy take documentation for everything, suddenly ......

OMO, what is that??

Anohana Bus

I also came across with another design in Cascadian Abroad
This bus is departed from Minano Station.

So pretty! Credits via Cascadian Abroad

Okay, it's now the time to go across the road!
The Chichibu Shrine is up ahead :)

2nd  Spot: Chichibu Shrine

It's almost exactly like in the anime episode 4!

Almost no difference at all!
There is vending machines placed exactly at that location, but it's Anohana Vending Machine 


I could say nothing more, this city is truly full of Anohana attributes ^^

After fascinated with the vending machine, we began to enter the shrine.

It seems that there was a social activity held by Japanese Red Cross Society at Chichibu Shrine.
Look at that super kawaii cars!
I never thought that even organization like red cross in Japan has cute mascots like this^^

"Everything in Japan is KAWAII" is ABSOLUTE !

So Kawaii!!

The main hall

Another Chichibu Yomatsuri advertisement

Chichibu Shrine is the main shrine of Chichibu as well as the venue for Chichibu Night Festival (Chichibu Yomatsuri). You could look up more detailed information in the internet. The night festival is really lively. I would love to visit it someday!

Now we are heading to the next destination: Jourinji Temple

Another nice and clean road

If you walk around this city, you will notice that the roads are filled with zodiac decoration like this.

My zodiac sign!

When in anime scenes ... LOL

Beside star zodiac sign, there are also chinese animal zodiac as well. They are scattered all over the city. I managed to find about 80% of them when I walked along the roads to Jourinji Temple.

Well, I don't really plan on going to this spot. But it turns out that this spot is located in the middle of my route to Jourinji. No need to take a detour so it's a blessing in disguise!

3rd  Spot: Game Arcade and Toy Shop

Look at that pink-colored game arcade!

This scene is featured in episode 2 when Anaru chasing Tsuruko to return her notes.

I don't really plan to pay a visit but.... suddenly I saw this .....

OMG, it's Gudetama Gacha Machine!!!! I don't know why but finding Gudetama Gacha Machine is quite rare when I was in Tokyo. I only found it once in the game arcade near my apartment in Asakusa. I have tried them and it costs 200¥. But this one?? It only costs 100¥ and what made me more curious to try this machine is simply because I didn't have the slightest idea what kind of gacha is it since the hole is flat and thin like that. So I put my 100¥ coin inside.......

It came out like this!!
I tried for 2 times hehhe :)


Turns out that this is a letter set gacha machine. For 100¥, you will get an envelope, 1 illustration carton, and 4 letter sheets. The paper quality is so DAMN GOOD, I can't stop rubbing my finger on the paper since I'm a stationary maniac LOL.

First Pattern

Second pattern

Those gudetama things are just one of so many things that made me happy in Chichibu^^

Okay, now let's keep moving on!
The pathway route becomes smaller and now we were truly entering local house complex.
We all have faith in our GPS ....

Hmm, those grapes look delicious :3

Simple House and Garage Design :)

Super Pretty Flower ^^

Right after this empty space of land, we found a very nice intersection.
No one was around and no car as well, so it's time to take an outfit picture!

We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us.” 
– Anonymous –

The pathway looks more suspicious, and what's more surprising the GPS told us to take that very small path as in the picture below ..... (????)

Small and suspicious pathway

Okay, Japan GPS. From now on I would always trust you.
We found the Jourinji Temple at the end of the path :)

Yeayy!! There is it!!!!

4th  Spot: Jourinji Temple

It's a small temple where Super Peace Busters often play hide and seek back in their childhood days. That's why you will often hear "Mo ii kai" phrase so much in this anime. Even after they grown up, this temple is also often set as their meeting point ( ^ヮ^)ノ*:・゚✧

Mo ii kai?

Little monk illustration

Trying to duplicate the anime LOL

Well, it also turns out that I'm not the only one who were doing Anohana Tour. There were also some chinese guys bringing Anohana stuff that they had just bought at the station. They were busy taking pictures at this spot too LOL. Glad to know it!

The backspace of the temple where Jintan and Menma are hiding in the Special Summer Movie.

They were hiding together ^^

Right behind the temple, you will find a small shop where you could buy wishing board (Ema). It is a wooden plaque where you write your wish on it and what's making it special? In this temple shop, you could buy a wishing board with Anohana characters illustration on it! It costs 600 ¥/pcs. I bought 2 of them. One for write my wishes and another one to be kept as souvenir LOL.

You also could take Anohana Map in mini booklet form for free as well. I also bought Anohana CD Song in Akihabara back then at Day 3. It was on sale at the price of 800 ¥. How could I not resist?

Tying up my wishing board ^^
Besides the custom printed illustration, many of other visitors also made a really great drawings along their wishes. Check them out!

My wish is written on the middle ^^

With Ogino Tomio and her daughter, Ogino Toshimi-san

After done tying my wish, I went back the front of the shrine. There was this old man with his daughter approaching us and start conversing with us. To be honest, I'm not that skillful with Japanese. He knew that I was a foreign tourist and I couldn't reciprocate him as well as it should be. But still, like any other Japanese people that I've met. All of them were still very kind and keep conversing so that we wouldn't feel too akward. I was conversing quite long with this man and here I will type it for you what was our conversation like. Please note that I got this with 20% Japanese skill and 80% gut-gesture-body language.

O  : Hi, are you here for Anohana Pilgrimage Tour too? This place is sure nice, right?
Me: Yes ...... I'm sorry before. But I'm not understand Japanese very well.
O  : Oh, are you a foreign tourist? From Hongkong?
Me: No, I'm from Indonesia ...
O  : Aah, is that so. Are you Anohana fans?
Me: Yes, I really like Anohana!
O  : Yeah, it's a really good story. My daughter and I also love Anohana. Here, take a look of this.

After that he began to show his Anohana Merchandise collection to me :)

OMG, I'm jealous!!
Please pay attention to the picture in upper and lower right side.

O  : You know, recently on May there was this Anohana Festival. I participated in this stamp rally and got these stamps.

Me: Aaah, YES YES! I know. I have heard it before on the Internet. Aaaaah, so kawaii desu! It's too bad that I live faraway from here. I really wanted to participate in the festival :'(

O: Hahha. It's OK. Therefore, since you already took your time coming all the way here from Indonesia, here... I will give it to you :)  It's a souvenir, special for you!

(with the brightest smiling radiating aura ever ........)











I got the stamp sheet paper and the merchandise present which is a mini Anohana paper mat. It sounds like a heaven music is playing in my ear right now and I feel like flying away due to much happiness. I mean, we are total strangers you know. I'm a 20-year-old college student flying away to Japan to spend her summer holiday ... and you, an old man with a daughter in almost the same age as me! There is a barrier language between us, but being a fan of Anohana connects us. I felt so touched with the Japanese kindness. My experience with the locals on this day was completely an unforgettable day for the rest of my life!

Done with the chit-chat, we ended it with sayonara. Now we are heading to the famous Chichibu Bridge as the next destination. We headed back to the main road and here we are, we met again with Ogino-san! This time... again, he approached us first again and showed us a cutting from newspaper contain Anohana advertisement lol lol. Seems like we are not just acquaintances, but he treats us as his friends!

Before parting for the second time, I asked which way is it to back to the main road. Since I will be using train from Ohanabatake Station to Onohara Station, the nearest station from the bridge. He kindly showed us directions and there we go. We parted ways ............

Parking Lot nearby
They went to their cars which was parked at the parking lot across the road. My friends and I were busy looking at GPS directions. This time, I really thought we will part ways for sure.

But it turns out NOT!!

Suddenly, Ogino-san appeared again in front of us. This time, he brought a lot of postcards with Chichibu Local Designs. OMG, each of us got three postcards! Aiyoo, now I felt like crying and went into disbelief state. It's just that ...... 


I will take more pictures of you!!!

Stamp sheet, Anohana-Kokosake Mini Paper Mat, Postcards. All of them are from Ogino-san!

Thankyou so much Ogino-san !

Now my friends and I felt really bad for taking too much things from Ogino-san. This time for sure, (the third time) ... we were parting ways and we ran away from that place ASAP. It seems like that he will back to the car and bring us another things LOL. Okay, keep focus on our way to Ohanabatake Station!

I could see the bridge from here!

Stumbled upon this pretty road

Finally we arrived in Ohanabatake Station!

Anohana advertisement everywhere

Please do note that you could not use your IC card here, so you must buy a ticket and pay in cash. The train schedule is also not as much as in Tokyo, so pay attention to your time when do sightseeing here. You might not be able to come home because no train operating anymore LOL.

Photogenic Railway!

Hahha, it's the second time that we accidentally wore the same outfit element

Thankyou Hellen for taking pics of us^^

The train interior

LOL, the train is really SLOW compared to the trains in Tokyo. As expected from the train who walks in outskirt area. There is no AC inside, but there is a fan instead. But the most IMPORTANT is, it is VERY CLEAN. The cushion is also comfortable and still, there is TV inside broadcasting news and advertisement hahha. Perhaps for the local, this might be one of the outdated train they ever had. But still, compared to public train in Indonesia .... this is still much better. I hope my country will keep up soon with Japan's technology in public transportation!

 Now we are at Onohara Station!

Onohara Station

You just need to walk a bit out of the station and you clearly could saw that the old Chichibu Bridge is right in front of your eyes!

5th  Spot: Old Chichibu Bridge

There are two bridges actually in Chichibu, the old and the new one. The old one is only used for pedestrian and bicycle while the new one is used for cars. The view is really nice and I saw an eagle flying in very low height just in front my eyes. Too bad that we are completely in dazed and forgot to turn on our camera LOL.
The new bridge as seen from the old one
You could see the scenery of Arakawa River as well. In the movie, it's the accident site where Menma slipped out her way and drown in the river :(
Arakawa River

Unlike any other spots, the old Chichibu Bridge is the most noticeable spots since it's featured so much in the anime!

Anime DVD Cover

I tried to combine it with the real scene!

Suddenly the weather turns dark and it started raining *sigh*

Rainy OOTD!
Independent female tourist should bring their own equipments, no?
For all eight days, I brought that tripod and umbrella walking for ~25.000 walks everyday hahha.

Anyway, If you walk down the bridge there is also another spot, this one is posted in JAPANKURU.

Suddenly, the rain stops and the weather turns bright again.
We took incredibly a lot of pictures here!

The Flower We Saw That Day

"Follow me to" Photo Style ~

Thankyou so much my dear BFFs for being my companion and photographer.
Let's travel again together someday!

Me, Hellen, and Angel
A journey is best measured in friends, rather than miles."
 – Tim Cahill –

It's almost 4 PM and we really need to go back to the station since we still had a long way back to Tokyo. We went back to Onohara Station, bought the train tickets, and sat in the waiting room before the entrance gate. Here was another funny and unforgettable experience we had! There was this cute high school couple, eating snacks together. Since it's our last day before going back to Indonesia tomorrow, this shameless tourist disturb their lovey-dovey time and ask them to take a picture together. Hahha, imagine their speechless face. They might be really confused what is the fun to take pics with them, but it's a must thing to do for foreign tourist when visiting Japan: take picture with LOCALS!

These shameless tourists and Japanese locals^^

We offered to tag them in social media. The girl said to tag her in twitter account hahha. Her name is Haruna btw. After that we saw the train is now arriving, but it's not our train. Haruna then parted ways with us and she entered the station gate. Huh, where is her boyfriend? The boyfriend took his bicycle and rode it somewhere. OMG, now we had grasped the situation completely. The boy just accompanied his girlfriend waiting for her train although they lived separate ways.


Anyway it's now soon to be our train so we entered the ticket gate and took one last picture in the middle of the railway LOL.


From Onohara Station to Ohanabatake by local train, and then walk to Seibu-Chichibu Station to wait for our local express train to Ikebukuro, Tokyo. My feet has almost gave up and now we were wondering what should we eat for dinner. To fill in our tummy, we ate the Anohana muffin bread we just bought at the station ^^

Muffin Bread

Overall, my adventure in Chichibu is really fascinating and unforgettable. I hope you enjoyed this post as much as I do and for Anohana fans, you could consider going to this city when you visit Japan someday. 

Stay tuned for the part 2 of my Day 7!
 (*•̀ᴗ•́*)و ̑̑

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