Saitama Day Trip: Spider Lilies, Vegan Cafe and Moomin Park

Seibu Pass ItineraryDate Visited: September 30, 2017

Fall is my favorite season, and my first fall trip of the year happens to be in the neighboring prefecture of Saitama. For this one-day trip, we made use of the SEIBU Pass, a one-day free ticket which you can use on all SEIBU Lines with the exception of the Tamagawa Line. Foreign visitors as well as non-Japanese residents of Japan can avail of this discounted ticket.

Our trip began at Ikebukuro Station. We booked our tickets through VELTRA, so once we got to the SEIBU Tourist Information Center inside the station, we showed the staff our mobile vouchers and got our tickets in return. After that, it’s off to our first stop: Koma Station.

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How to Ride the Moomin Train in Chiba

Isumi Railway is best known for its Moomin Train, fashioned after the beloved Finnish series of the same name. Running along the Bōsō Peninsula, these yellow train cars take its passengers through Chiba’s green fields and historic towns, and is especially popular in spring as cherry and rape blossoms (菜の花) frame the landscape.

In my last entry, I posted a video of what traveling on board the Moomin Train was like. Here, I get down to the details. Continue reading

Mt. Mitake Easy Day Hike

Access: JR Ome Line Mitake Station
Cost: Around JPY 3,710 (Shinjuku Sta. to Mitake Station: JPY 970; Bus to Mitakesan: JPY 280; Round-trip Cable Car JPY 1,110; One-way Lift to Anzan Sugi: JPY 100)
Difficulty: Absolute beginner to beginner
Duration: Approx. 3 hours
Hiking Course: Mitake Station→Mitakesan Station (Cable Car)→Anzan Sugi→Shopping Street→Musashi Mitake Shrine→Nagao Taira→Tengu Rock→Rock Garden

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Have Fun with Farm Animals! Visit Mother Farm in Chiba.

Basic Info:

Location: Futtsu, Chiba
Highlights: Farm animals, animal shows, flower fields, fruit picking, crafts workshop, shopping
Good for: Friends, families, couples, pets
Admission Fees:
Same-day Tickets
Adult – JPY 1,500
Child – JPY 800
Dog – JPY 600
Pre-sold Tickets
Adult – JPY 1,350
Child – JPY 700
*Sold at ticket machines (Loppi, Famiport, etc.) in convenience stores
With Round-trip JR Tickets
Adult – JPY 8,400
Child – JPY 6,000
*Sold at JR View Plaza inside JR Stations and Ekinet (Japanese only)
Hours:
9:00-17:00 on weekends and holidays/9:30-16:30 on weekdays (Feb to November)
9:30-16:00 on weekends and holidays/10:00-16:00 on weekdays (December to January)
 Access:
By Train – Take the JR train from Tokyo Station to Kimitsu Station/Sanukimachi Station
By Highway Bus – Take the bus from Tokyo Station to Kimitsu Station
*There’s a shuttle for Mother Farm at Kimitsu Station
Official English Website: http://www.motherfarm.co.jp/en/

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Date Visited: March 25, 2017

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Tickets to Mother Farm have cute animal designs.

The last time I wrote about Mother Farm, I didn’t go in-depth. I went again earlier this year, and given how lovely the place is, I think it deserves an article that talks more about its charms.

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Hiking Trip: Mt. Tsukuba (Miyukigahara Trail)

Basic Info

Location: Tsukuba, Ibaraki Prefecture
Height: Nantai Peak (877 m); Nyotai Peak (871 m)
Difficulty: Absolute beginner to intermediate
Duration: Climb – approximately 2 hours on a leisurely pace
Access: From Tsukuba Station (Tsukuba Express), take exit 3. The bus for Mt. Tsukuba arrives on Bus Stop # 1.
When to Go: May to June for lush greenery; Late October to late November for (a bit of) fall foliage

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Date Visited: March 20, 2017
Route: Tsukuba Shrine→Nyotai Peak →Ropeway to Tsustsujigaoka (via the Miyukigahara Trail)

Overview

Mt. Tsukuba makes an easy day trip from Tokyo. Located in Ibaraki Prefecture, one can easily get to the mountain by hopping on the Tsubaraki Express or a highway bus from Tokyo Station. Both will take you to Tsukuba Center, where you can ride a bus to either Tsukuba Shrine or Tsutsujigaoka, which serve as the mountain train’s entry points.

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Bus Stop # 1

Several hiking trails are available, but for this particular trip, I chose Miyukigahara. Frankly, I wish I didn’t, as the the trail was mostly composed of steep rocks. (I prefer to see lush greenery and flowers on my hikes.) The trail, however, is pretty straightforward, with markers along the way to tell you how far you still need to go to reach the top.

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The Miyukigahara Trail is marked with several signposts.

Mt. Tsukuba has twin peaks named Nantai and Nyotai. For those who want to enjoy the view from the top without the workout, there’s a cable car at Tsukuba Shrine and a ropeway at Tsutsujigaoka. Continue reading