A village of Peach Blossoms “Hanamomo no Sato” nicknamed an earthly paradise. In the Ouchizawa area of Higashichichibu, Saitama Prefecture.
An Earthly Paradise
The village of peach blossoms Ouchizawa Hanamono no Sato is one of Saitama’s most stunning spring scenes. Rightly nicknamed as “an earthly paradise” the location is remarkably not that well known outside of Saitama. Even within Saitama, it only really came on the radar recently, thanks to Instagram. I accidentally found it on the web about five years ago and quickly added it to my “must go” list. However, I didn’t get to cross it off the list until this year, 2020.
At the time of discovering it online, I shared a post here on the blog as there no other information online in English at that time. I don’t usually share places I’ve never been to on the blog (only events). But I was so stunned by the beauty of the earthly paradise in photos, that I wanted to share it for anyone who can’t read Japanese. That post, is now this post, upgraded now that we’ve actually been to see it for ourselves. And it really is one of the most beautiful spring scenes in Saitama.
Paradoxically it was thanks to the Coronavirus outbreak that I finally got to go. I had all the kids home and I couldn’t work. We were spending our days outdoors in nature. And travelling to places further afield than normal. Plus – full disclosure – as a volunteer Hikijin*, I felt an added incentive to make the two hour round trip. Too close to stay overnight, too far to visit frequently. But definitely worth the longer than normal journey to see an earthly paradise. It is a beautiful drive coming from the East as you go through Ogawa. I imagine it is even more beautiful from the West as you drive through mountains.
*Hikijin are a group of volunteer tourism ambassadors for the Hiki area. The Hiki area comprises the seven towns of the Hiki District (Hatoyama, Ranzan, Ogawa, Tokigawa, Kawajima, Yoshimi and Namegawa) plus Higashimatsuyama and Higashichichibu.
A village of peach blossoms
There are about 5000 peach blossoms in Hanamomo no Sato Ouchizawa Higashichichibu. Hanamomo is the Japanese for peach blossom. Sato means village. And Ouchizawa is the area. The blossoms bloom from late March to early April normally. Although this year, 2020, they were earlier and the prime period was the last week in March. We visited on the 18th and were actually a little too early, but the scene still took my breath away. 2021 update: the peach blossoms are in full bloom now, March 16th.
What makes this village particularly notable is that there is a great look out point up a hill, right in the middle of the bucolic village. From there you can get a bird’s eye view of the village colored in the pinks of not just peach blossoms, but cherry blossoms and other seasonal blooms too.
You can also walk or hike around the area too and get a view of the flora up close and personal too. There are some picnic tables in the forest and the clearing beside the main car park. In the clearing, they have a view of some sakura on the hill. The car park has several different types of blooms including peach blossoms, cherry blossoms and wintersweet.
2000 cherry blossoms
Minutes drive from the village of peach blossoms is the equally stunning and mindbogglingly equally unknown Senbonzakura park. If you are coming from the east you actually pass it just as you cross over the Ogawa – Higashichichibu border. Senbonzakura means a thousand cherry blossoms, but there are close to 2000 cherry blossoms on the side of Mt Torayama.
Higashichichibu is Saitama’s last remaining village. It is a beautiful mountain town. And one of the most underrated places in Saitama. Apart from the peach blossoms of Ouchizawa and the 2000 cherries of Mt Torayama, there are many beautiful nature spots and incredible views . It is also boasts one of Saitama’s most famous scenes: the “poppies in the sky” of the Chichibu Highland Ranch. Furthermore, it is the current home of the legendary Ondekoza Taiko troupe.
The Saitama Prefectural Department of Industy and labor, Tourism Division, shared a good summary post of the area in Spring on Facebook in 2017:
Hanamomo no Sato Information
Location: Ouchizawa, Higashi Chichibu, Chichibu District
Expected viewing season: late March ~ early April. Click here for information about the annual Peach blossom Festival in the area.
Number of blooms: About 5000
By public transport: There is no train station in Higashichichibu. But this area of the village is close to Ogawa town. You can get an Eagle Bus from either Ogawamachi Station (JR / Tobu Tojo) or Yorii Station (Tobu Tojo / JR / Chicibu Tetsudo) to Ogawa Washi no Sato and walk 40 minutes to the earthly paradise. You pass Senbonzakura on the way. That is only about 10 minutes on foot from Washi no Sato.
Access by car: The area is about 30 minutes from the Ranzan Ogawa Interchange of the Kanetsu expressway. Parking
is free is no longer free. It costs 300 yen per car per day, worked on the honor system (pop the 300 yen into a box) and there are about 30 spots. Please note the roads are very narrow and there is an informal one way system.