Thursday, February 4, 2016

# Event ♪ Experience Hello Kitty SPEEDY Train Service! From Seibu Ikebukuro to Chichibu! Let's start the stamp rally tour~

Limited period ending March 27, 2016

]# Event ♪ Experience Hello Kitty SPEEDY Train Service! From Seibu Ikebukuro to Chichibu! Let's s
# Event ♪ Experience Hello Kitty SPEEDY Train Service! From Seibu Ikebukuro to Chichibu! Let's start the stamp rally tour~ 

Chichibu (秩父) is lucking out with an amazing new
train service! We recently attended a surprise event featuring a
train with none other than the mighty Hello Kitty. If you're
 wondering just how Kitty-fied the train was, well we can
guarantee it was coved from head to toe in Kitty-ness!
Looking back on the trip we've made quite a bit of good
memories, including an unexpected treasure hunt. ^^
Although there are many tourist attractions in the heart of
Tokyo, it's refreshing to get out of the city every now and
then and experience something new. Most notably this
Hello Kitty Campaign themed train making it's way to
Chichibu from Ikebukuro.^^

Our destination, Chichibu '(秩父) is full of many unknown gems -
and discovering those gems are half the fun! Today's adventure
 will take us on a wild scavenger hunt through the countryside
of a suburb of Tokyo so strap in and prepare for the ride.
The ride takes a little over a half an hour on Seibu Chichibu
Line (西武鉄道) , so it's enough time to relax and enjoy the
sights along the way.

Seibu Chichibu & Kawagoe

Seibu Chichibu line is your direct link to all these tourist
destinations in Kawagoe. Most lines leave from Ikebukuro
Station but there's also the option to board from Shinjuku
or Takadanobaba Station on the way to Kawagoe. Most tourists
hangout in Tokyo only, but if you'd like an advanced course,
 give these destinations a try! ↑

On January 16, 2016, Hello Kitty added Hannou Station

Seibu Hannou Station (飯能) was officially added on to the
Seibu Chichibu Hello Kitty train service on January 16, 2016,
due to popular demand.
And Hello Kitty actually made a personal appearance to
cut the red tape! 

Hello Kitty isn't a Japanese actress...She's an idol ♡ Loved
the World Over

With Mickey Mouse, Snoopy and the other beloved Disney
characters there's quite a following. That very same
following can be used to explain the lovers of Hello Kitty.♡
Just as the spread of English language began to rise in
the Asian countries, so has the culture of "kawaii" or
cute, introduced by characters like Hello Kitty.
 International stars such as Paris Hilton, Cameron Diaz and
Lady Gaga are picking up on these styles and using them
across a wide range of media (just check out videos from when
Lady Gaga visited Japan). So you can see how easy it is to
get attracted to the hype of anything Hello Kitty touches!

Limited time offer: Chichibu Stamp Rally'

The top to bottom wrapped in Hello Kitty goodness train is
offering a special promotion for riders.

The main draw of this event is called the 'Stamp Rally',
a promotion seeking to improve ridership on the line and
introduce some interesting tourist destinations in the
local area. The challenge is broken down into several
areas in which you need to visit to receive a special Hello
Kitty stamp.

From the outside, it may seem like a childish game,
but the more areas you see and experience, the more fun
you'll begin to have and it'll leave you wanting more at
the end.
Depending on your tourist schedule you may want to try
 this out:

1. Get your Hello Kitty stamp book at the tourist information
center of the Seibu Ikebukuro Station.
2. Yes, You can get your first stamp here!
3. Go to Chichibu  (Express: 1 hour 18 minutes: 1,420 yen
reserved seats / Regular 1 hour 40 minutes: 780 yen non-
reserved seats)
4. Receive a stamp from at least 4 out of the 5 travel destinations
and you'll receive a gift.

Where can you get stamps?
-Seibu Ikebukuro Station on the first floor tourist office
-At the Icicles of Ashigakubo: 180 yen entry fee.
-Near the front gates of Chichibu's Seibu station
-Souvenir shop at Chichibu Shrine
-At the strawberry farm

Wondering what the gift will be?

We want to know too!!!^^

From left: Seibu Ikebukuro 1st floor tourist office, Seibu Chichibu Station, Chichibu Shrine's Souvenir shop

from left: Icicles of Ashigakubo ticket office, Chichibu strawberry farm.

2016 Hello Kitty meets Chichibu Stamp Rally Jan.16, 2016
to Mar. 27, 2016
Seibu Ikebukuro (Ikebukuro Tourist office)
Tokorozawa Share camera experience
Ashigakubo Icicles
Chichibu Shrine, and berry plantations
1.Hello Kitty themed train cars
2. Chichibu experience tour stamp rally
3.  Share camera Experience and mosiac art

Official website (Japanese)

Begin your journey here!

Our journey begins at the very friendly Seibu Ikebukuro (西武鉄道)
office on the first floor of the station. Recently opened in
Oct 20, 2015 it's proven to be quite useful for tourists wanting
to navigate the city.

For starters, let's grab our stamp book here!

Truly global Tourist Office

Benefiting from the use of bilingual staff, the information stand
can interact with just about any tourist from a foreign country.
The languages spoken on a given day are clearly written as well
along with free Wi-Fi for patrons. The Hello Kitty stamp rally book
 can clearly be seen on the counter!

At first glance, the staff look and smile just like old friends from
home! They are actually Chinese, Korean, and English students who
 have studied abroad in many countries allowing them to communicate
 smoothly and effectively with foreign tourists and kind enough to
guide us as well.

Go and pick up your book and play before the deadline
The promotion ends on Mar. 27, 2016 (Sun).

The first stamp from the Tourist office, Wham!

Well... that was easy! After you open the book you'll see the spaces
 for the 5 locations you must visit to receive stamps. The first can be easily satisfied, but we must travel to Chichibu for the other 4.

1. Ikebukuro Seibu Tourist Information Office
2. Seibu Chichibu station
3. At the Icicles of Ashigakubo: 180 yen entry fee.
4. Chcihibu Shrine
5. Strawberry farm at the Chichibu Fruit Farm (1 of 5 locations)

Collect them all and for your hard labor you shall be rewarded!
 (the starting stamp is required!)

Plan your trip to come visit the Seibu Tourist Information
 office, make friends and get your first stamp on your wonderful
 journey today!

Ikebukuro to Chichibu

To head to Chichibu from Seibu Ikebukuro station you have a couple of options. You can board the express train, the limited express or the rapid express train . All three are high speed trains, but the difference is the number of stops before you reach the destination.
All in all, the express train is 103 minutes, special express 96 minutes, and rapid express only is 78 minutes.

When you purchase a ticket, it'll which particular type of ticket you've purchased including the seat number when applicable.

Basic fare:
<Express (急 行)> Seibu Ikebukuro Line <Express Rapid (快速 急 行)> → 'Seibu Chichibu (西武 秩 父)' Station
780 yen (base fare)

Seibu Ikebukuro Line <Special express (特急)> → 'Seibu Chichibu (西武 秩 父)' Station
780 yen (base fare) +640 yen (reserved seat rate) = 1420 yen
(* Children are half price)
(* The Kitty themed train is limited to the express trains.)
※ The Kitty themed train is operated irregularly so there is no guarantee you can ride in it. Plan accordingly in advance! > _ <

Train Lines
To see a list of charges

Experience the Beauty of Japan

First we'll embark on the Red Arrow express train on our way to see
 Hello Kitty! A train run by Japan Railway, a train line that seeks
to reach connect every neighborhood with train service. Often
times on the outskirts of Tokyo we would recommend driving
a car, but taking the train can be a way more relaxing and
 inexpensive way to travel.

A joyful Reunion!@ Hannou Station

Taking the express Red Arrow we've reached our destination,
Hanno Station in only 40 minutes...

 At last we've finally come face to face with the lovely Hello
 Kitty!! Today is a special day to celebrate the launch of the
newly decorated trains. As pretty as the train is, it's always a
shock to see a dolled up Hello Kitty in the flesh! We can
 barely control our emotions! ^^

The Whole train is really wrapped in Hello Kitty

Kitty here, Kitty there, Kitty everywhere! >. '< '
Seeing this much cute-ness on the train has the power to bring a grown man to tears (trust us, we've seen it during our trip).
"Pretty, pretty kitty kitty, little kitty, little kitty, little kitty kitty" we sing as we board the unofficial "Kitty mobile" ^^

Hello Kitty Accents

Not just on the exterior, but also the interior shows love for the famous cat. Let's take a look around and see where else we can spot the 'Kitty'.

All smiles with Hello Kitty by your side

One of the cool things to do while riding is counting how many different 'Kitty' outfits you can find. There's an impressive amount of variety for such a small space!

Simple yet familiar landscape

The train ride will take you across deep forests, far reaching
rolling hills, and scarcely populated locales. It was good to see
the amount of residents came out to show Hello Kitty love on
Jan. 16, 2016 during the unveiling. The sight along the route
was polka-dotted with residents bearing the cold to snap their
own picture of the new Seibu Ikebukuro Hello Kitty Train.

One can only imagine how beautiful it'll be when spring flowers
begin to bloom!

^^ Spreading 'Kitty' delight

In conjunction with the Hello Kitty festivities on Jan. 16th, each
 station we stopped at gave us a special show.

Rock on young ones, rock on!

On your marks, get ready, set, gooo!!

From Seibu Chichibu Station, our stamp mission has officially begun!
The peace and tranquility of the station is quite daunting. As if we
have a great quest lying before our very feet.

We shall rise up to the challenge and complete the Stamp Rally

The Opening Ceremony

With an array of finely dressed participants, Hello Kitty, clad in
an appropriate kimono posed as the audience flooded her with photos.

Yet again the ceremonial tape was cut and the line was officially
 opened to the public!

Just as the festivities were heating up, Hello Kitty challenged the
crowd yo a game of rock, paper, scissors! A special prize was
promised so of course we were in!

Rock, Paper, Scissors! 1,2,3 GO!

Unfortunately, our rock, paper, scissors' skills must be a little rusty,
 because we lost. Hello Kitty is quite the player! We look forward
to challenging you again someday Ms. Kitty!

Picture time!

Even though we lost, we still had a chance to be winners and
take a photo with Hello Kitty! Special characters from the area
also joined in and posed for pictures with fans. Before we knew it,
the ceremony was over and the real Chichibu Rally began.

Nakamise Dori (仲見世通り)

Connected to the station there's a hall of restaurants lining
'Nakamise Dori', or Nakamise Street. Even though it's
relatively close to the station, it's pretty quiet due to the small
amount of trains passing through. Among the restaurants, many
 souvenir shops can also be found. We recommend paying it a
visit if you have time during your trip.

We have other plans in mind for a meal (can almost taste the
strawberries and bbq!)

Hello Kitty's Signature Ribbon?

Built into the Nakamise Street area is a Kitty themed O-mikuji
experience! This station serves as a space to place your pull
 fortunes from the box and place them on the board.

Why tie them on the board?

For the people who are lucky enough to pull good fortunes, they can hang their good fortune notes on the board in the hopes that it'll come true. However it is possible to pull a bad fortune as well! To make sure it doesn't come true just get ride of it.

2 Stamps down!

Yay! We managed to get the second stamp! The first and the second stamps are the easiest to get.

[Kitty Chichibu Stamp Rally Checkpoint.]

1. Seibu Ikebukuro Station on the first floor tourist office  Completed!
2. The front gates of Chichibu's Seibu station Completed!
3. The Icicles of Ashigakubo
4. Souvenir shop at Chichibu Shrine
5. Chichibu strawberry farm (one of the five places)

Checkpoint Strawberry farming! (Kommatsuzawa Leisure Farm)

Our next stop is the Kommatsuzawa Leisure farm, bumping our stamp total up to three! If not for the stamps, visit here to enjoy fresh, ripe and juicy strawberries. There are various locations so pick the one that works best for you

 A . Kinoko Chaya inside Ashigakubo orchard park in
Address : 405 Ashigakubo, Yokozemachi
Phone : 0494 - 24 - 5099
Hours:10:00am 〜1500※ Last entry:14:30
Google Maps

B .Kommatsuzawa Leisure Farm *Condensed milk available (show your stamp book)*
Address : 1408 Yokoze, Yokozemachi
Phone : 0494 -24-0412
Hours: 10:00am 〜1500※ Last entry:14:30
Google Maps

C .Chichibu Fruits Farm *Condensed milk available (show your stamp book)*
Address : 877-1 Shimokagemori, Chichibu-shi
Phone : 0494 -23- 2711
Hours: 10:00am 〜1500※ Last entry:14:30
Google Maps

D .Wado Farm *Condensed milk available (show your stamp book)*
Address : 457-3 Kuroya, Chichbu-shi
Phone : 2504-94-4733
Hours: 09:00〜18:00※ Until the sun goes down.
Google Maps

E . Fukushima Strawberry Farm
address : 2145 Terao, Chichibu-shi
Phone : 0494-23-9054
Hours: 09:00〜16:00※ Last entry 16:00
Google Maps

Saitama is famous for it's Strawberries

Deliciously, mouth-watering, sweet strawberries will leave
your mouth agape while you scarf more and more down!

Capture this experience while you still can!!
-February: 1,500 yen / 800 yen for kids
12 years old & younger.
-March: 1,300 yen/ 700 yen for kids
12 years old & younger.

Bang Bang! Two more stamps to go!

Every checkpoint presents it's own unique challenges and
adventure. Luckily we can enjoy these creative stamps of Hello
 Kitty doing such cute things!

Enjoying BBQ and strawberries

After downing all we can eat of the delicious strawberries,
 we decided to enjoy some fresh barbecue. Hopefully we still have
 room left after all the strawberries...

Checkpoint! Chichibu Shrine

A beautiful and pious guardian deity if Chichibu is waiting,
watching over the shrine as you make your wish. Let's wish
to complete our stamp books on time! Even though the
shrine has been rebuilt over the years, it has been designated
 a cultural asset in Saitama prefecture.

Address: Zip: 368-0041 Chichibu, Saitama Prefecture
Bamba-cho, 1-3
Hours: 5:00〜20:00 (Winter: 18:00)
Call 0494- 22 - 0262

Don't forget your stamp!

Although you may be caught up in the amazement of the Chichibu
Shrine, don't forget to stamp your book before you leave. The
Kitty in this stamp is holding the traditional O-mikuji!

Another level of Hello Kitty Sharing

In Chichibu Shrine's Souvenir shop, we found this amazing
 Kitty machine. The requirements for using this machine you
may be wondering... none whatsoever! Just a person willing
 to take a selfie!

Free prints on site!

After shooting your pics, you'll have the chance to decorate
 them just like purikura!

(Share Camera)
Tokorozawa Souvenir shop inside Chichibu Shrine:
Installation period: 2016.01.16〜2016.03.27
 Hours: 07:00〜21:00


Mission Complete: Congratulations!

After stamping your way all the way back to Seibu Chichibu
station with a completed form you can now get your prize! But
what lies inside the box?


Beautiful isn't it?
After all your trouble of collecting stamps you will receive this
collectable Hello Kitty themed pin certifying you've completed
 the Hello Kitty Stamp Rally!

However, technically we've only gotten 4 out of the 5 stamps...
Perhaps we should go ahead and try to get the 5th stamp?

Check Point! Ashigakubo Icicles

The beauty of winter has at last revealed it's true colors to us.
These amazing works of art are not man-made, but rather
created by nature. The icy patch is located in an area of the
 mountain that doesn't receive sunlight, so essentially the area
has frozen over the years leaving a cool pattern of blocks of
ice and icicles. However there's other locations as well to take
a look at if you have the time

Ashigakubo Icicles
Hours : 09:00 to 16:00 (lights come on after sunset: Friday,
Saturday and Sunday until 20:00)
200 yen/person (middle school student and over)

Google Maps

Misotsuchi Icicles
Hours: 08:00 to 17:00pm (lights come on at 19:00)
200 yen/person (middle school student and over)

Google Maps

Onouchi Hyakkei Icicles
Hours: 08:00~16:00 (lights come on at 20:00)
200 yen/ person (middle school student and over)
Homepage (Japanese)

Google Maps

Finally we've made it!!

Cheers for reaching the final destination! By now you've
filled your cards, and you're probably a bit chilly by now, but
stay warm as we approach the iciest location yet!

Mysterious Night Sky

The eerie silence will leave you puzzled as you trek towards the
 pulsing lights and the chilling icicles in the distance.

Kitty can also be seen far off into the distance on the passing
train. Make sure you wave and yell "Hi!"

Dazzling Conclusion

The amazing lights fill your soul with warmth as you are engulfed
in the moment. You barely even notice the freezing temperatures
of the mountain!

Perhaps it was destiny?

Our long awaited finished stamp book has become a reality!
This unusual travel experience has left a weird taste in our
mouth. This taste, better yet a desire to do it all over again,
but somewhere new!! We anxiously await further instructions
on the new Hello Kitty Stamp Rally. Hopefully we'll get one
soon so we can enjoy another fabulous trip!!

Thank you Hello Kitty and Seibu Railway!.

2016 Hello Kitty meets Chichibu Stamp Rally Jan.16, 2016
to Mar. 27, 2016
Seibu Ikebukuro (Ikebukuro Tourist office)
Tokorozawa Share camera experience
Ashigakubo Icicles
Chichibu Shrine, and berry plantations
1.Hello Kitty themed train cars
2. Chichibu experience tour stamp rally
3.  Share camera Experience and mosiac art

Official website (Japanese)

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