Sunday, May 11, 2014

Mt. Nokogiri (鋸山), Nihon-ji (日本寺) and its huge buddha (大仏)

I made a trip to the mountain Nokogiri (鋸山) in Chiba prefecture. This mountain is renown for having the biggest statue of buddha (2nd and 3rd would be those in Nara and Kamakura) of all Japan. This statue belongs to Nihonji (lit. 'Japan temple') which is now under restoration (May 2014). Not only that, it is also a nice and easy hill to hike with all kinds of sculptures on the way to the submit. No special skills or equipment are required since the path is paved.

There are several ways you can get to Mt. Nokogiri. The map above describes the one I would suggest if you live not very far from Kawasaki. On the East exit of Kawasaki JR station there is a bus terminal. Go to the platform 22 and wait for the bus that goes to Kisarazu (timetable). The price of the bus is about 1440 yen one-way. Once you get to Kisarazu, take the JR Uchibō train line towards Hota station (Kanjis on the map). The price for the train is about 670 yen. Therefore, in total the transportation fees would rise up to the amount of 4220 yen.

Note: you can also get off one station before Hota station, at Hama-kanaya (浜金谷) station, if you prefer to take the cable car which brings you right near the top. If you live near Kurihama (久里浜), there is a ferry that goes from Kurihama to Kanaya (timetable) and costs about 720 yen one-way.

From Hota station, you turn right (towards the bank) and then walk for about 80m. Turn right again and pass under the train rails. You should start seeing some signs with the kanji 遊歩道. Follow those signs, they will take you to the entrance which is about 1.5Km away from Hota station.

The 1.5Km span from Hota station to the entrance to the mountain (see picture below) was perhaps the most enjoyable part of the whole trip. Since most tourists opt for the cable car approach, that path was mostly free from people. Perfect for portraying the beautiful scenes of the japanese countryside. Since I went in Spring flowers were specially beautiful.

At the entrance to the mountain, you must pay an entrance fee of about 600 yen (400 yen for children). In exchange, you receive a map of the mountain in English or Japanese (maps in Japanese, map in English).

The first thing I noticed when I entered the mountain was the songbirds. In particular, the penetrating sound produced by some Woodpecker birds (キツツキ) which were hammering the cortex of tree where they lied catched my attention (listen). Perhaps they were happy for having enough earthworms to eat.

Just a few minutes of steps and you'll find the famous buddha statue (daibutsu). Let's be honest, after having seen several of them I lost the ability to get surprised. However, I was really surprised when I found something that I had overview while looking up the information for the trip: the 100 shaku kannon. This is a relief sculpture carved in quarry stone and hidden near the top of the mountain. This one really made my day, and reminded me of those famous relief sculptures and monuments in Petra.

This post wouldn't be complete without pictures from the observation deck on top of Nokogiri. The first one shows the cost of the Bōsō peninsula, and the second one is Tokyo bay. On a clear day (usually in Winter) I read that Mt. Fuji can be seen from there.