Getting to Chichibu from Central Tokyo by train
The train on the Seibu-Ikebukuro Line 西武池袋線 runs between Seibu-Ikebukuro Station 西武池袋駅 in Central Tokyo and Seibu-Chichibu Station 西武秩父駅 in Chichibu. From Seibu-Chichibu Station you can take a bus or local train (Chichibu Railway) to travel around Chichibu area, including the most popular tourist spot Nagatoro.
Nagatoro is also reachable by the local train "Chichibu Railway" departing from Kumagaya Station 熊谷駅, accessible from Ueno Station in Central Tokyo by the Takasaki-sen train.
Types of trains available on the Seibu Ikebukuro Line
The quickest, convenient way to get to Seibu-Chichibu Station is to take the train “Red Arrow Limited Express”, departs from Seibu-Ikebukuro Station, about an 80-minute ride. You need both a limited express ticket and a regular train ticket when using the Red Arrow. All seats on the Red Arrow require a reservation that you can make when purchasing a limited express ticket at Seibu-Ikebukuro Station. Be sure and reserve a seat beforehand if you plan to travel on the weekend in the peak-season; in spring, autumn, or during December 2-3 when Chichibu Night Festival takes place. Reservations can be made up to 1 month in advance.
In the case of using a regular train from Seibu-Ikebukuro Station, take an express train (Kyuko) bound for Hanno 飯能 where you need to change trains and take a regular train heading for Seibu-Chichibu Station. The total travel time will be 2 hours or so. The regular train ticket is purchased at the ticket counter. IC cards (Pasumo, Suica) can also be used to pay regular fares.
Getting around Chichibu from Seibu-Chichibu Station
Nagatoro, the most of tourist visit for sightseeing in Chichibu, is reachable by local train on the Chichibu Railway, runs every 30 minutes or so. People heading for Nagatoro or Mitsumineguchi usually take this train from Ohanabatake Station 御花畑駅 about a 5-minute walk from Seibu-Chichibu Station.
Having good hiking trails around the Chichibu Railway’s line, the train between Ohanabatake and Nagatoro stations may get crowded with hikers on weekends early in the morning and late afternoon.
The special express train “Kaisoku-Kyuko” is served on Saturdays and holidays, allows passengers to get Nagatoro or Mitsumineguchi directly from Seibu-Ikebukuro Station without changing trains. One thing you should know is that the Kaisoku-Kyuko train is divided into 2 trains going to different directions, one goes to Nagatoro Station, and the other goes to Mitsumineguchi Station, that may confuse you if you are not sure which car to take to reach your station. If you feel insecure, ask someone at the station before getting on. Also, be sure not to use your IC card (suica and pasmo) when using the Kaisoku-kyuko train as the card is not accepted to pay fares at stations on the Chichibu Railway.
Special day-tickets are available for tourists having an international passport or a holder of the “SEIBU PRICE CLUB emi”. The ticket “Seibu 1 Day Pass + Nagatoro” allows the ticket holder to have unlimited travel for a whole day on the all Seibu lines (excludes Tamagawa Line) and on the specific section of the Chichibu Railway Line. The ticket price is 1500 JP Yen. “Seibu 2 Day Pass + Nagatoro” , the same type of ticket good for 2 days is at 3000 JP Yen. These tickets are purchased at SEIBU Tourist Information Center at Seibu-Ikebukuro or Senbu-Shinjuku Station. To find more details, see their website.
Seibu-Chichibu Station is reachable from Seibu-Shinjuku Station in Central Tokyo by way of Tokorozawa Station. The Seibu-Shinjuku Station is located at near Kabukicho district, about a 5-min walk from JR Shinjuku Station.
Tourist information centre is a 1-min walk from Seibu-Chichibu Station, and 3-min walk from Ohanabatake Station. In front of Nagatoro Station is also a tourist information office.
Kawakudari river boating tickets are purchased at ticket offices near Nagatoro Station, including the one next to a parking lot and the other in front of the boarding site.
If you travel there by car during the busy season, it may be hard to find a parking place near Nagatoro Station, and traffic jam often happens in the area.
On the 1st day of every month , heavy traffic jam happens on the way to Mitsumine Shrine, may continue several hours and even more. This happens while many people come to the shrine to get a special lucky charm exclusively sold on that day.
* As of May 15. 2018, it stopped selling the lucky charm due to the massive traffic jam that caused too much trouble for both visitors and local people.