Located in the westernmost part of Saitama prefecture, Chichibu covers a large mountainous region that shares its borders with four other prefectures. It is no surprise then, that Chichibu clocks in as the largest municipality in Saitama by land area. However, with terrain unsuited for growing rice, the town instead relies on silk production and limestone excavation. The city also promotes its abundant natural landscape and sightseeing opportunities, one of them being the icicles of Misotsuchi.
After the sun goes down, we drive to our destination nestled away in the mountains. While a bus is available, service ends fairly early. Not ideal for this particular attraction, so we opt for a rental car instead.
Before long we join the tail end of a procession of vehicles heading to the only parking lot. Probably the busiest back-mountain road in Japan that evening. Eventually we make it to the site and barrel down the very steep entrance ramp to park our car. A short hike down to the bottom of the valley, and we find what we came for.
On the opposite side of the valley is a large rock face that naturally forms huge amounts of icicles in the winter. While beautiful on its own, someone had the bright idea to make it into a pseudo light show.
A small creek divides the valley floor. The calm surface acts as a mirror, making it seem as though you are looking down into a cave filled with stalagmites.
The scene takes on a different character each time the lights rotate to other hues and luminescence.
Lots of people came out to enjoy the icicles of Misotsuchi. And we are glad we joined them, despite the cold. All it took was a lovely piece of nature, with a little bit of technology mixed in.