Nokogiriyama – 鋸山
A couple of weeks ago, on Saturday, a group of “adventurers” decided to visit the largest Buddha statue in Japan. We set out at 7:00am from Shinagawa station on our way to Kurihama.
From Kurihama station we walked towards the port and around 9:30am we boarded the “Kanaya Maru”, the boat that took us to the other side of the bay in half an hour.
Around 10:00am we arrived to the port of a small village called Kanaya (金谷: money valley). Our instinct took us to a Chinese restaurant near the port where we recharged our energies. With a full belly we set out to go to Nokogiriyama mountain. We walked along the shoulder of the road that followed the coastline. The houses in Kanaya are cluttered in the little space that is left between the sea and the Nokogiriyama forests.
It’s not a very popular place for tourists, so there are not many signs. It took us a long time to find the head of the trail that had to take us to the summit.
The hike was quite easy, the trails were clear and there were even stairs in some areas.
We crossed the forest until we bumped into some mysterious rock walls.
Great picture taken by Ikusuki from a cliff. We are those pixels down there that don’t match with the landscape.
The walls, which looked artificial and natural at the same time; the huge trees in the forest and the continuous drizzle and some traces of human activity reminded us of the TV Show Lost.
It turns out that it was a quarry that was active during the Edo era (until just 150 years ago); that’s the explanation for the mysterious shape of the walls. We tried to advance a little bit more but we arrived to an area without an exit, we were surrounded by rock walls and forest. We couldn’t advance any more towards Nokogoriyama’s summit.
We traced back our steps until the last bifurcation we had passed by. We started walking the other trail which brought us through a narrow crack in the mountain. Crossing that crack we found a Buddha image engraved in one of the walls.
After resting some minutes in front of the Buddha we marched on towards the summit, which was only 5 minutes away.
If you are lucky and the weather conditions are good, you can see Mount Fuji on the horizon; in our case it was cloudy so we couldn’t spot it. However we enjoyed amazing views of Tokyo bay and the fabulous forests we just had crossed.
Now we just had to enter Nihonji temple, which is on the other side of the mountain, where you can find the biggest Buddha in Japan. Todai-ji is not the biggest one, and neither the one in Kamakura. This Buddha inside Nokogiri-yama is the biggest one. It is a representation of Yakushi Nyorai and it is 31 meters tall, more than double the size of Todai-ji in Nara.
According to a leaflet we were given, it was built in 1783, after 3 years of hard work of 28 Buddhist monks. The Buddha statue represents “The universe inside the lotus flower world” and was built as a symbol of world peace and tranquility. I don’t know if it was how tired we were or the tranquility that Buddha transmitted us, but most of our group decided to take a small nap in front of him.
We regained our forces and headed back home. We came back using another trail that allowed us to see 1500 “Tokai Arhats” (Buddha disciples) statues, each one of them has a unique face, and although a little bit scary, they are supposed to represent a “benevolence spirit”. They were sculpted by the same 28 monks that created the great statue of Buddha.
A marvelous place, an unforgettable day. I can’t believe we didn’t know about this place if it is so close to Tokyo! It was my friend CaDs who suggested the day trip, he learned about the existence of Nokogiriyama because he had been using a parser library for Ruby called Nokogiri. I have the feeling that this will not be my last time climbing Nokogiriyama.