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.

Nokogiriyama
On our way to Kurihama.

Nokogiriyama - B&w period

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.

Nokogiriyama
Leaving the coast of Yokohama on our way to the coast of Chiba.

Nokogiriyama

Nokogiriyama

Nokogiriyama

Nokogiriyama

Nokogiriyama - B&w period
One of the masts of Kanaya Maru.

Nokogiriyama - B&w period
At that time in the morning the bay was full of boats.

Nokogiriyama - B&w period
Group photo on board of the Kanaya Maru.

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.

Nokogiriyama - B&w period

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.

Nokogiriyama

Nokogiriyama

Nokogiriyama

Nokogiriyama

The hike was quite easy, the trails were clear and there were even stairs in some areas.

Nokogiriyama - Hasselblad period

Nokogiriyama

山登り、hiking

We crossed the forest until we bumped into some mysterious rock walls.

Nokogiriyama

Nokogiriyama

Nokogiriyama

Nokogiriyama

Nokogiriyama
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.

Nokogiriyama

Nokogiriyama

Nokogiriyama

Nokogiriyama

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.

Nokogiriyama

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.

Nokogiriyama

Nokogiriyama

Nokogiriyama

Nokogiriyama - B&w period

Nokogiriyama

Nokogiriyama

After resting some minutes in front of the Buddha we marched on towards the summit, which was only 5 minutes away.

Nokogiriyama
This cliff is called Jigoku-nozoki (Peering into hell) and is 380 meters above sea level.

Nokogiriyama

Nokogiriyama - B&w period

Nokogiriyama

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.

Nokogiriyama - Hasselblad period
We could enjoy the visit with almost no tourists.

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.

Nokogiriyama

Nokogiriyama - Hasselblad period

Nokogiriyama - Hasselblad period

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.

Nokogiriyama - Hasselblad period

Nokogiriyama - Hasselblad period

Nokogiriyama - Hasselblad period

Nokogiriyama - Hasselblad period

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.

6 Comments
  • CaDs Online » De Excursiones

    July 25, 2011 at 11:12 pm

    […] lo contaron Ikusuki y Kirai en sus respectivos blogs hace tiempo, pero yo voy algo rezagado con esto del blog y voy mucho más […]

  • Geir Botterli

    July 26, 2011 at 2:46 pm

    Wow, how can this not be popular?! I must go there on my next Japan trip.

    Amazing photos!

  • kirainet

    July 26, 2011 at 6:01 pm

    Yes! I don’t know why it is not well known, but still that is also good. It is not crowed 🙂

  • sixmats

    July 31, 2011 at 5:59 am

    I missed out on that when I was living in Tokyo! I think the Nara one is the largest Buddha casting in Japan.

    I like the processing on the B&W pictures in the beginning. Are those Instagram?

  • Mike

    August 27, 2011 at 7:30 am

    NB: The 1500 Arhat trail also contains a billion stairs. Also there is a cable car up the quarry face XD
    Right where the ferry docks there’s a resturant/shop called something like “the fish”, you can get nice round brown cakes there that taste of golden syrup.

  • b.hata

    September 15, 2011 at 3:39 pm

    I enjoy reading your website…

    According to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daibutsu, Nihonji’s Daibutsu isn’t the “Largest Buddha Statue”, but it is the largest “Stone Carved Statue”. Ushiku Daibutsu in Ibaraki-ken is the largest statue…