Nokogiriyama, a sanctuary outside Tokyo
Golden week has never been this fun! I had a list of plans of how I will spend it one if which is what this blog all about – Nokogiriyama where some people claimed to be as Japan’s largest Buddha is located.
A lot of my friends have been there, it’s quite popular with the people living in Kanagawa because it is a short trip from Kurihama Ferry Port in Yokosuka. I’m surprised it’s not that popular among tourist and those who came from Tokyo.
There are two ways of getting there. I’ve tried those two for the sake of exploring and trying to find out which is the best.
So I decided to take the first option, riding a limited express train called Sazanami. One way ticket costs 4,000 yen for a total of 1.5 hour ride from Tokyo station. I choose this because I want to avoid people who are going out of Tokyo in a budget riding the main lines. Also, comfort comes first. I like sitting in a reserved seat like the green car ones on Tokkaido main line because it’s going to be more than an hour trip and you don’t want to be tired before you came to your destination.
Sazanami runs on the Keiyo Lines platform 1 and 2.
This is the Sazanami 81 towards Tateyama.
It was indeed a relaxing ride. You get the nice view of the rice fields and seaside in Chiba. I suddenly remember my trip to Izu Peninsula where I came to visit the Nanadaru Falls. I wish I brought a book with me but I didn’t because I’m goin on a hike and I don’t want to bring anything heavy. Before the train leaves, I got myself some snacks so I won’t get hungry.
Tadaa! I’m so ready for the trip!
From Hama Kanaya Station, I walked about 10 minutes to get to the Nokogiriyama ropeway station.
Nokogiri Yama is like natural museum famous for the unique shaped rocks or beautiful places. The ropeway was installed here with the investment cost of about 200million Yen (say US$ 1.85million) in 1962.
Since then, this ropeway has been regularly used by people who have visited here at all seasons. The oblique distance is 680 meters (say 2200 feet) between the stations at the foot and top of the mountain, and the car is served every five minutes. In the building at the top of mountain, there are an observation restaurant, free resting room, telescopes, souvenirs corner, game for children ets. Also, the historical materials on the stone cutting in this mountain is exhibited there. On the other hand, there is a Japanese temple called Nihonji at the opposite side of the mountain. In the garden of this temple, you can see the greatest images of Buddha made of stone, which is the biggest in the Orient, one thousand and five hundred images of Buddha(1500 Rakan), etc.
Also, you can enjoy one and half hour hiking between the station at the top and the garden(round trip), including walking around the garden.
This is the view you can get from the cable car.
There is a viewpoint outside the ropeway terminal where you can have a great view of the Boso peninsula and the mountains.
Nihonji Temple and Daibutsu
Nihonji temple and the Hiking Trail is what makes visiting Nokogiriyama an enjoyable experience. The trail entrance is just 8 minutes walk from the ropeway exit. There is an entrance fee 0f 600 yen for adults and 400 for children to enter the hiking trail.
This is the start of the many steps I have to take on this trail. Because it’s a mountain, you’ll expect a lot of stair steps like this. The good thing about this mountain is, unlike Mt. Fuji, this mountain is still full of greeneries and old trees that keeps you cool from the harsh sun ray. It’s a actually a very relaxing hike. You’ll hear different nature sounds.
My first stop is the Hyaku-shaku Kannon Area. It’s where you can find one of the two large Buddha images in Nokogiriyama.
Hyaku-shaku Kannon is a relief image of the Buddhist Goddess of Mercy carved into the rock. This area is a very calm area. There’s also an entrance gate here.
I then continued and take the stairs up to the sawtooth mountain. This is where the “view of hell” is. I didn’t have the chance to take a picture there because people are all line up just to take a picture at the peak.
After this, I proceed to the highlight of this trip. The Nihonji Daibutsu.
I prayed for guidance and strength so I can continue to grow and be a better person. I also prayed for my loved ones that they find peace and happiness wherever they are.
These flowers are so beautiful. It added beauty to this very peaceful place. From this area, you can also get a nice view of the mountains and the sea.
After taking half an hour of meditation and relaxation, I continued my hike to my last stop – 1500 Arhat.
This long path winds left and right and up and down past shelves, caves and alcoves in the rock, some naturally formed, some man-made, and each clustered with carved statues of Buddhist devotees and deities.
There are only in fact 538 now, as many of those originally placed here were destroyed in a nationwide wave of anti-Buddhist violence, prompted by the government’s establishment of Shinto as the state religion and the outlawing of Buddhist practice at the start of the Meiji Period in 1868; however, those that survived are still numerous enough to display a tremendous variety of expressions, with as wide a range as humans in their postures, faces and manners.
They’re standing, sitting and occasionally reclining, smiling, frowning, sometimes scowling, each in a rather un-saintly fashion. Some of them chat convivially with their neighbours, some of them perch in hermit-like solitude. Many are badly weathered or cracked, or lack limbs or heads – beheading was a common method of Meiji-era violation – but those that have made it through the ages intact display the exquisite craftsmanship, lavish attention to detail and imagination of their makers.
This is also a very atmospheric part of the mountain; while the very top is rather bare in places, along these paths it seems nature is determinedly encroaching to reclaim its territory.
It was an amazing hike! I’ve never been so relaxed as this while hiking. I felt like my soul was uplifted and I’m ready to go back to the hustle and buzzle of the big city.
Riding a Ferry
So I decided to try heading back to Tokyo by riding the Tokyo Wan Ferry. At first I’m hesitated because I’m not sure about the time schedule. But I tried my luck! I saw a seafood market and restaurant near the Ferry port. I got my family an “Omiyage” or a souvenir from my trip. I bought lobster cracker, so yummy!
It’s a 40 minute cruise which costs around 700 yen if I’m not mistaken. It goes from Kanaya Port to Kurihama Port in Yokosuka.
This is the wiew from the Ferry.
I’m surprised there is a cafe and snack bar inside.
From Kurihama port, I took a bus 15 min bus trip to go to Keikyu Kurihama Station. From there, I took the train back to Tokyo.
It was indeed an awesome adventure. Everything fall right in to place. I was alone, and I don’t know the schedule of the Ferry and all. But, all worked out smoothly. It just reminds me how to just relax and trust my instincts. That’s what adventure is all about right? And oh, this quote got in to my mind: “Worrying is a misuse of your imagination.”
I’m ready for more solo adventures and more food tripping! And now, I’m actually enjoying it, yup, eating all that good food all by myself and looking all sweaty without being conscious! Haha! Those are the perks and I’m loving it!