One of the most popular countries that tourists visit in Asia is Japan. The place is especially popular among adventurous people. Depending on the season, there are a lot of activities that people can do in Japan. Among the most famous features of the Land of the Sun are its mountains. These mountains can be great for climbing and hiking when the weather permits, offering a scenic view from the top of the mountain. During the winter season, there are also certain mountains that are filled with heaps of snow and provide great slopes for snow skiing. One of the most notable mountains in Japan great for hiking is none other than Mount Nokogiriyama.
Learning About Nokogiriyama in Chiba, Japan
Standing at 330 meters high, Mount Nokogiriyama is a mountain located along the western coast of the Boso Peninsula. Scattered along the slopes of the mountain is Nihonji Temple. A Soto Zen Buddhist temple, Nihonji Temple was commissioned around 1,300 years ago. It is considered as one of the most ancient places of worship situated in the Kanto Region.
Composed of several areas, the well-known temple complex is actually quite extensive. A network of walking paths was made in order to connect the different areas of the temple to one another. It may take more than an hour just to explore all of the areas of the temple. The garden of this temple features some of the greatest depictions of Buddha that are made of stone. One of these is actually the biggest in the Orient.
Nokogiriyama is famous for possessing uniquely shaped rocks as well as scenic views. A ropeway was installed in Nokogiriyama in the year 1962, which cost around 200 million yen, which was about 1.85 million US dollars. This ropeway proved to be a great installment, as it has been used on a regular basis on all seasons by visitors of Nokogiriyama.
The oblique distance between the top of the mountain and the stations located at the base of the mountain is 680 meters, which is equivalent to about 2,200 feet. The car of the ropeway is served at 5-minute intervals. Standing on the top of the mountain are an observation restaurant, telescopes, free resting room, and souvenirs corner. Visitors can also enjoy hiking between the garden of the temple and the station located at the top. The hike may take about an hour and a half to complete.
The fare for children between 6 years old and 11 years old is 250 yen for a one-way trip and 450 yen for a round trip. The fare for visitors 12 years old and above is 500 yen for a one-way trip and 930 yen for a round trip. The rates are different for visitors in groups of more than 25 members.
In general, the fare for children in a group between 1 years old and 11 years old is 230 yen for a one-way trip and 410 yen for a round trip. This is the same rate for students. The fare for visitors 12 years old and above in a group is 450 yen for a one-way trip and 830 yen for a round trip. If they are students, then the fare would be 400 yen for a one-way trip and 740 yen for a round trip. Obviously, the rates are lower for people visiting in groups.
From the 16th of November to the 15th of February the next year, the mountain is open to the public from 9 in the morning until 4 in the afternoon. From the 16th of February to the 15th of November, the mountain is open to the public from 9 in the morning until 5 in the afternoon. However, during the summer season when the sun is out for a longer period of time, the mountain is open to the public from 9 in the morning until 6 in the afternoon.
Traveling to Mount Nokogiriyama
There are many ways to travel to Mount Nokogiriyama. For people who would be commuting by land, the option would be to go by train. The first step is to take the JR Uchibo Line going to Hama-Kanaya Station. From there, make a 10-minute walk to the lower station of the Nokogiriayama Ropeway. From there, guests are lifted and transported to the peak of Nokogiriyama. The fare varies depending on the visitor and whether one is taking a one-way trip or a round trip.
Aside from commuting by land, visitors of Nokogiriyama may also travel by ferry. The Tokyo Bay Ferry serves as the connection between Kurihama located on the Miura Peninsula and Kanaya located on the Boso Peninsula. After alighting the ferry upon arrival in Kanaya, it would only take 10 minutes to walk to the lower station of Nokogiriyama Rope way. The ferries traveling this route operate roughly on an hourly basis. The trip itself while making the crossing by sea may take about 40 minutes. The far for a one-way trip is 720 yen for passengers and about 4,000 yen for cars of regular size.
If one has his or her own vehicle, he or she can just drive one’s car and travel to Nokogiriyama. Two roads lead to Nokogiriyama, namely, a toll road and a toll-free road. The toll road leads cars to the parking lots near the peak of the mountain. This would cost about 1,000 yen, which already include a parking fee. On the other hand, the toll-free road leads further down Mount Nokogiriyama and a bit near to the Daibutsu.
The travel would take a long time if one would be coming from Haneda Airport. There are two ways to commute from Haneda Airport to Nokogiriyama. The first way is by taking the Keikyu high-speed bus coming from Haneda Airport and going to Kimitsu Station, which would take about 45 minutes. From Kimitsu, one would have to take JR going to Hamakanaya Station in the transfer, which would take about 30 minutes.
The second way is by taking the Nitto Kosu high-speed bus coming from Haneda Airport and going to Kisarazu Station, which would take about 35 minutes. From Kisazaru, one would have to take JR going to Hamanakaya Station in the transfer, which would take about 40 minutes.
If one would be coming from Narita International Airport, one would have to take the JR special express “N’ex” going to Chiba Station, which would take about 35 minutes. From Chiba, one would have to take the JR going to Hamakanaya Station in the transfer, which would take about an hour and twenty minutes.
Points of Attraction of Nokogiriyama
There are many points of attraction in Nokogiriyama. There are several entrances to the temple grounds in Nokogiriyama. The typical approach is to start at the base of the mountain. The main attraction of the temple is the Daibutsu, which is also known as the Big Buddha. Standing at 31 meters high, it is located midway up the mountain. A statue made of stone, the Daibutsu features the Yakushi Buddha, which was carved in the area for years beginning in the year 1780.
Also sometimes called the Ishidaibutsu, the Daibutsu is the biggest cliff-carved Buddha in the country. Truly, the statue is an impressive sight to behold. This is especially true when the statue is surrounded by blue skies and green trees. With its massiveness, visitors cannot help but be in awe of its magnificence. This statue has a counterpart in Kamakura, which is only half of its size.
Recognized as the healing Buddha, this statue depicts the great Buddha holding a container of medicine in his hand. It is said that whoever bathes in the radiance of the emerald inside the container would be healed of his or her illness. Settled near the great statue are seats covered in wisteria. Along with drinks machines and a souvenir shop that sells charms, the place serves as a good spot to have a picnic or to take a break from walking or hiking.
On the left side of the Buddha is a small Jizo statue. This statue is surrounded by numerous small white Onegai Jizo statues. These smaller statues amount to either hundreds or thousands. Jizo is recognized as the guardian of children as well as the Bodhisattva of Hell. Visitors can buy the smaller statues and make a wish before placing them at the foot of the bigger Jizo statue.
Carved out of stone for more than 20 years ago are 1,500 statues of Buddhist disciples known as rakan. These statues line up the walking paths leading to the top of the mountain. The master artisan who made the Daibutsu was also the one who created these 1,500 statues. These small statues do not have the same poses and positions. Furthermore, they can also be found in different places around the mountain.
Sadly, some of these statues were beheaded as a result of the short anti-Buddhist Haibutsu Kishaku movement that came with the Meiji Restoration. At present, there are redevelopments in the area with the purpose of fixing damages such as this. These statues are also known as arhat. It is said that these statues represent the human beings who have achieved enlightenment. Each statue consists of a unique facial expression, which makes each statue interesting. They are also different in size and shape.
The trail or walking path available on the mountain contains a lot of steps. As a result, it is expected that visitors would be really tired by the end of the day. Hence, it is recommended that they would rest up after hiking the mountain. Despite the tiring journey, many swear by the worthiness of this climb to the peak of the mountain. This is especially true for people looking for a spiritual journey.
Close to the peak of the mountain stands Hyaku-Shaku Kannon. Standing at 30 meters high just below the Jigoku Nozoki, the statue depicts the Buddhist Goddess of Mercy. The statue was carved into a stone cliff in the year 1966. The statue was built in commemoration of the people who died in wars, especially those in the Second World War, in accidents, or of sickness. People also worship the Kannon as a guardian of transportation based on its location, which is protected by the rocks surrounding it.
Reaching the peak of the mountain offers visitors a number of viewpoints and great sceneries. The main attraction of the peak is the Jigoku Nozoki, which translates to the Hell Lookout. Standing at the top of the mountain, visitors are able to enjoy the views of Tokyo Bay as well as the Boso Peninsula. Mt. Fuji and the Tokyo Skytree may also be visible from the peak of the mountain during clear days. The scenery is also quite spectacular during the fall season when the view is accentuated by colors of red and golden leaves.
Hiking Routes in Nokogiriyama
Two primary hiking routes can be taken when going up Nokogiriyama. Both routes would take about 50 minutes for visitors to reach the peak of the mountain. Furthermore, both routes would also lead visitors to ascend on the same side of the mountain. The first route is the Sharikimichi route while the second route is known as the Kanto Fureai No Michi Route. Both routes also feature the Edo-era quarry ruins.
In fact, one of the reasons that visitors actually hike this mountain despite the tiresome journey is to be able to witness the beautiful quarry ruins. There is a faint imprint of kanji that can be found on the walls. Moreover, small, carved Buddhas can also be found at certain heights of the walls. Talking loudly in the area would let one listen to one’s echo voice. Both trails are also signposted to guide visitors.
While there are definitely a lot of mountains that one can hike when in Japan, Mount Nokogiriyama should still be at the top of the list. This mountain is highly recommended for people who wish to witness a magnificent view as well as to take a spiritual journey, and, hopefully, find one’s self along the way.