Nokogiri-yama return

30 12 2009

Today we returned to Nokogiri-yama.

Nokogiri-yama (Saw Mountain)

20 07 2009

Today, being a Sunday and the first day of my school summer holidays, we enjoyed a leisurely breakfast of pancakes. After that we went to K’s (electrical store) to spend a 10000 yen gift voucher we got for signing up for our internet during a campaign. We bought a printer for Benno’s work and while we were there we met this water droplet mascot for an airconditioner company that were handing out free stuff like notepads and hats. Bonus!

We heading off to the Kisarazu train station late morning. We caught the Uchibo line south to Hama-kanaya station. It took over an hour because of the strong winds were slowing the train down but finally we made it to the station. We followed the road to the ropeway that goes up to the top of the mountain but ‘zan nen desu ne’ the ropeway was closed due to the strong winds. So we saved our 900 yen each and we walked up. It took about 40 minutes to hike up the hill, through an animal-path (narrow hiking trail) that was slippery underfoot. The stairs were covered in moist moss and mud and it was tough going. We soon were drenched in sweat due the humidity and our exertions climbing all the steps. When we arrived at the top we sat down and ate our bento lunch in the fog.

Continuing on a little way we came to the entrance gate to the sacred Daibutsu grounds. 600 yen entry gave us access to more fog and mist. It was very misty so we could see nothing from the lookout “Ruriko Observatory”. Ruriko is on the edge of the cliff with a steep drop 400m down (a ‘saw edge’ but with all the white fog we couldn’t see the drop.)

We trekked to the hundred-shaku Kannon but it was very hard to see with a thick layer of fog covering most of it. So we moved on, past some statues to the Daibutsu of Nihon-ji (the Giant Buddha of the Temple of Japan). It was impressive- 31.05m tall carved into the rock (twice as tall as the Todaiji buddha in Nara and three times as tall as the Kamakura daibutsu). It took 28 men 3 years of work back in 1783 to complete it. Benno saw frogs and tadpoles in the little moat around the base of the Daibutsu. We couldn’t stand still for too long or our leg muscles started shaking from climbing all the stairs. That’s why a lot of our photos turned out blurry.

Before the Daibutsu was carved the appretice artisans first created 1500 stone images of Arhats. Unfortunately many of the statues were eroded or deliberated destroyed by an anti-Buddhist movement from the Meiji era. Lots were missing their heads. By this time we had been walking for over 2 hours (40 minutes hike to the lookout and then 90 minutes around the mountain) so it was time to return home. Unwilling to go back down the slippery, dark and foggy animal path, we came down the other side of the mountain.

Heading down the southern side of the mountain we passed the Nihon-ji temple and grounds with lovely gardens and lots more stairs. We exited the sacred mountain and walked about 5 km to the Hota train station. It was quite a small station and walking there we felt like the only people around for miles (as it was just sparse farmland). The station had no gates, only a small building and a couple of benches to sit on while waiting for the train. This was another side to Japan – the countryside is a completely different world to the Tokyo-Japan.

It took less time to travel back to Kisarazu so the winds must have died down. We caught the 6.45 local bus back to Apita and then home to rest our poor feet and legs.

We watched the least strange movie that we have seen so far tonight, simply called “Always”.

Nokogiri yama map

19 07 2009

Here’s a copy of the walking map around Nokogiri yama. There’s not that much information on the web or in guide books about this place and yet it’s the largest buddha in Japan. (Right click and ‘view image’ to see full size)


Nokogiri yama travel information

20 06 2009


While not featured in many travel guides, Nokogiri yama hosts the largest Buddha in Japan – much larger than the popular Daibutsu in Kamakura or Nara’s Todai-ji Buddha. Hiking to the top of  Nokogiri yama (Saw mountain) will prove you worthy as pilgrims to see the sacred Daibutsu, the two hundred shaku kannon and the 1500 Arhat statues. The villages around the mountian give you an insight into local farming communities- a much more laid back Japan to the one normally experienced in Tokyo.

Getting there and away

Nokogiri yama is easily accessed by train. The Uchibo line from Chiba will take you south to Hama-kanaya station and the base of the moutain. From Kisarazu, at the end of the Tokyo Bay Aqua Line, it is Y570 to Hama-kanaya station with a travel time of about 50 minutes.

If you wish to enter on foot from the southern side of the mountain (closest to the Daibutsu) take the train one stop further to Hota station. From there it is about a 20-30 minute walk to the base of the mountain where you can enter through the main approach to the temple, Nihon-ji.

There is also a ferry direct to the town of Hama-kanaya (40 mins, Y600) from Tokyo Ferry bay to Port Kanaya.

Getting Around

From Hama-kanaya station walk about 10 minutes down the road along the shore until you reach a road on the left with a big red gate. This is the entrance to Nokogiriyama.

The ropeway starts here- enter the white building at the top of the car park. Adults Y900 return or Y450 one way. It is a 4 minute trip up to the lookout. However the ropeway is not open during strong winds or at certain times of the year. Opening hours 9-4pm.

The other way up the moutain (unless you have a car and drive up to one of the 2 carparks on the mountain) is to hike for 40 minutes up the mountain. From the ropeway building follow the road beyond the carpark up the hill. Take the left path at the first junction (the right path is for cars) and then turn right into a small opening with mossy steps. Follow the stairs along the narrow path until you get the ropeway end (with a small shop for buying ice cream and drinks).

From the ropeway end it is a 90-120 minute return walk to all of the sights. Alternatively, it is a 80 minute walk past the sights and to the south side of the hill where Hota train station is about 3km south.

Things to do

While the fishing town is famous for its seafood, it is just a small village so dining and accommodation options are few.

On the mountain there are numerous sacred sites to visit. First you will need to enter the park – Y600 for adults and Y400 for children.

The two hundred shaku kannon is a tall carved relief cut into the rock.

The Ruriko Observatory is a lookout from which there is a sharp drop (329m) to the bottom. On a clear day you can see Mt Fuji across the Bay.

Walk down the stairs past the 1,500 Arhat statues and along the Daibutsu-mar approach to the Daibutsu (the Giant Buddha). Follow the path down the hill to the Nhon-ji (Temple of Japan) with lovely manucured gardens and ponds.

A word of warning: there are many steps, often slippery or eroded. Wear sensible footwear and carry water.