Chichibu Poppy Festival – In both 2020 and 2021 there were no “poppies in the sky”! In 2020, the Chichibu Poppy Festival “Poppies in the Sky” was not only cancelled, the flowers weren’t even grown. But in 2021 they grew the flowers and scheduled the event and then the day before it was supposed to start it was cancelled. Unfortunately, they have already made the decision not to grow the poppies again in 2022. Thus, there will be no Chichibu Poppy Festival for the third year in a row.
Poppies in the Sky
For me Chichibu is synonymous with both great beauty and great events too. The poppy festival in Chichibu is just one of many famous and acclaimed events held annually in Chichibu. In fact, in the last five years or so, the poppy sky has become one of Saitama’s most famous scenes. Chichibu Highland Ranch, which is the home of the sky of poppies, is actually in Higashichichibu. Saitama’s last remaining village. Which is officially part of the Hiki* area, but is also considered part of Chichibu too. Moreover, the plateau where the poppies are straddles both Higashichichibu and Chichibu.
Daytrip from Tokyo
Each year thousands of people navigate the crowded mountain roads to witness the spectacular scene of (approximately!) 10 million red shirley poppies across
three five hectares on a plateau known as Tenku no Poppy (天空のポピー) or “Poppies in the Sky”. Due to the relative proximity to Tokyo, the festival draws not only domestic tourists, but international tourists too. It is a manageable daytrip from Tokyo, but there is so much to do in the area it might be worth considering staying in one of the dozens of campsites in the Chichibu area. They have cabin options too if you are not up for roughing it! Some places also rent out tents and all the equipment you need. Therefore, if you are in Japan sans camping supplies it doesn’t have to stop you experiencing camping in Japan. I will say though, that this area is best travelled by car as the land area is expansive and mountainous. Thus it is harder to get around by public transport.
*The Hiki area comprises the seven towns and cities of the Hiki district plus Higashimatsuyama and Higashichichibu. The seven towns in Hiki District are Ogawa, Ranzan, Tokigawa, Kawajima, Yoshimi, Hatoyama and Namegawa.
The shirley poppies typically bloom mid May to early June annually. The 2021 festival period was scheduled from May 22nd to June 6th, but was cancelled. As of May 4th 2021 the poppies were not yet in bloom. The poppies are grown in the Saitama prefectural farm called Chichibu kogen farm or Chichibu Highland ranch. The farm is also known as Sai no Kuni Fureai Center. It is normally free to enter the farm, but during the period of the poppies there is a fee. The price went up in 2021 to 400 yen per adult. It is free for children to enter. The price includes access to the poppy fields.
Chichibu Poppy Festival Access
The sky of poppies are about 21 kilometers from the Hanazono exit of the Kanetsu expressway. 「天空のポピー」(tenku no popi-)「秩父高原牧場」(chichibu kogen bokujyo)「彩の国ふれあい牧場」(sainokuni fureai bokujyo) or the phone number 0494-65-0311 in the car navi should bring up the location. There two parking lots for the farm. They are open from 9 am to 5 pm with last entry at 4.30 pm during the poppy festival season. They are free to use. However, both are very small. There is a separate car park for the poppies too. Please note that there is only one road in and out of the area and it gets very congested during Golden Week and during the period of the poppies.
If you are driving to the poppies from Ogawa / Ranzan, taking route 254 to route 11, Washi no Sato is a nice place to stop. They have an outdoor food court. Moreover, you can make your own washi paper!
Last update November 21st 2021.