Nokogiriyama was in my list of places to see before I leave my duty station in Japan. Had I known just how amazing this place was, it would have went there much sooner. I’m surprised this place is not more well known.
Nokogiriyama, “Sawtooth Mountain” in English, is a large mountain in Chiba prefecture that is home to an ancient Buddhist temple, many old statues, some especially enormous Buddha, and some breathtaking views.
Whenever I am about to go on one of my Japan photo travels, I have a habit of always stopping at Yokosuka’s Matsuya to grab a beef bowl. My favorite is the kimchi beef bowl with fatty beef and seaweed. It just has more flavor then the standard beef bowls they serve there. No raw egg for me though. ^^;
Energy charged, I made my way to Keikyu Yokosuka-chuo station to ride a few stops south to Keikyu Kurihama station.
The fastest way to reach Nokogiriyama, for me, is to take a boat there. Don’t worry though, it is quite easy to do for non-Japanese speakers.
When I arrived at Keikyu Kurihama station, I followed signs for the harbor. It is at least a 20 minute walk but you will eventually make it to the beach. When you do, keep a look out for these ships and that large orange sign. There will also be some English signs pointing the way to the Tokyo Wan ferry when you arrive at the beach.
It’s was a little over 1,000 yen for a round trip ticket to Kanaya port (the only stop) and the ships seemed to come about every 30 minutes on the weekends. Not bad at all.
Underway! Ship’s colors!
I’m probably the only one on the ship who gets underway during their off time. ^^;
When I left Kurihama, I went for about 40 mins or so, across the bay to the other side. This is very fast because otherwise I would have to go all the way to Tokyo, then to near Narita, and then all the way down south to JR Hota station.
When I arrived in Kanaya port, I could see the ropeway going up the mountain in the distance. It’s about a 5-8 minute walk from the port there and you will want to take this ropeway. Usually I don’t take the shortcuts and tough it out but ALL of the interesting things to see are on the opposite side of the mountain so you will want to get to the top as soon as possible. It was around 900 yen for a roundtrip ticket for the ropeway.
At the top of Nokogiriyama, I saw a scenic panorama of Tokyo bay, Kurihama, and Yokohama. There was a slight haze in the distance, so I couldn’t quite make out Mt. Fuji like some folks did. Still, some of the best views I’ve seen in Japan.
A few steps off the observation deck, I saw a very odd shrine that made me do a double take. First time I’ve seen folks praying to a male organ. ^^;;
I’m sure it’s supposed to be for fertility but still… ^^;;
Like most people, I wanted to see Nokogiriyama’s most famous attraction first, it’s large Buddha statue. On the way down you will pass a lot of these stone figures which seem to have a lot of personality and character compared to what I usually see in Japanese temples.
These stone figures were made between 1779 and 1798 by the master of the temple and his 27 apprentices. At one point, there were 1,500 of these stone figures but during the Meiji era there was an anti-Buddhist movement and many of the figures were destroyed or mutilated.
I ended up taking about 100 pictures of these stone figures but have narrowed it down to the very best ones. Basically, I wanted to keep the ones with the most personality.
These figures are actually depicting Arhats. An Arhat is a person who has realized nirvana and is not reborn into the physical world when they die like others.
There is another Arhat figure collection in Huaian, China. Don’t think I will see it though because I’ve never heard of a Chinese port visit besides Hong Kong.
I wasn’t the only person freaked out by this statue’s eyes. ^^;
One of many headless figure statues I encountered. This is not the first time I’ve seen this. They really didn’t like Buddhist in the Meiji era it seems…
After descending countless stairs that were a bit hard on my knees, I came to the Nokogiriyama Buddha at last. This thing was huge! Over twice the height of the Kamakura Buddha and even taller then the Nara Buddha which I still need to see.
The Nokogiriyama Buddha is 31 meters and was completed in 1783. It was heavily eroded through time and restored in 1966 to it’s present state.
At this point, I was debating if I should turn around because I did not yet explore the other side of the mountain yet. In the end, I went back.
The stairs on the way back up almost killed me. ^^;
Completely caked with sweat, I made it back to the other side of the mountain that I had not explored yet.
These extremely steep rock cliffs are where the name “Saw Tooth Mountain” originated. They were also so steep they made my hands sweat and I was worried about dropping my camera. ^^;
Only two things have made me make an audible reaction to their sheer awesomeness in Japan. One was the life sized Gundam and the other was this huge giant carved into the cliffs. This is the hundred shaku Kwan-non. I could find no more information on this giant then it’s name. It was even larger then the Buddha statue and reminded me of the 3rd Indiana Jones movie so much.
God, I’m going to miss Japan exploration when my time here is up and I especially love finding unexpected finds like this.
Well, I hope you enjoyed my little adventure into Nokogiriyama. Certainly a must see place if you come to Japan. Hopefully, more Japan travel soon. We are really busy but I try to find time to do these when I can.
1.) If you are in Tokyo, from Shinagawa station, take the Keikyu red or green train to Keikyu Kurihama station. It is further south then Yokohama and Yokosuka.
2.) At Keikyu Kurihama station, head towards the harbor and the Tokyo Wan Ferry.
3.) Utilize round trip tickets and the ropeway and you should be fine. ^_^