Chichibu in Saitama is a popular sightseeing spot for a day trip from Tokyo. You can reach it easily by local train (JR Takasaki Line/Chichibu Railway from Tokyo station) in around 2 h. One of the main attractions is around the Nagatoro station.
Just 800 meters or 10 minuts on foot away from the station is the beautiful Hodo Shrine. The shrine was constructed in 1847. The name Hodo just means stopping fire. The story of the shrine says that a prince climbed up Mt. Hodo to pray for victory, but suddenly the mountain was burning by a fire of his enemies. When he was completely surrounded by fire a group of dogs helped him out. Right after he left the mountain the dogs disappeared. He thought that those dogs were the messenger of a god, That´s why the shrine was built on that spot.
The shrine has very beautiful old colorful painted wood carvings, which are inside and outside of the shrine. There is also a nice small park around the shrine. The main shrine building stands at the foot of the mountain with a further branch of the shrine closer to the peak.
Just a 10 mins walk from the shrine is the Hodosan ropeway which brings you up to the peak of the mountain. The ropeway leaves every 30 mins and costs for a round trip 820 Yen (children 410 Yen). It is even possible to hike up. It takes around 1-2 h if you are a good hiker.
From the top of the mountain you can enjoy a very spectacular view over the mountains and across the town. There are different routes to walk around the top of the mountain. Depending on the season there are many beautiful flowers and trees to enjoy. There are thousands of plum trees blooming at the beginning of spring. Even in winter you can see many beautiful yellow wintersweet flowers and in autumn you can walk around many azaleas.
Just right next to the peak of the mountain is the smaller Hodo shrine, where you can also take a rest and enjoy some ice cream. Also there is a nice small zoo with many mountain animals like monkeys, deer, wild rabbits and raccoons. There is a specialy area where you can touch and feet rabbits, turtels and gosts. Especially the area for the monkeys is huge and you can watch them from a viewing platform over the fence. There were many small baby monkey during my visit. It was so enjoyable watching them running around.