Sightseeing in Chiba: Hiking Mt. Nokogiri (鋸山) - Vikingess Voyages

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Sightseeing in Chiba: Hiking Mt. Nokogiri (鋸山)

Chiba Prefecture is one of the three prefectures surrounding Tokyo, along with Kanagawa (Yokohama) and Saitama. Although Chiba is most known for Narita airport and Disneyland (yes, it is in fact not situated in Tokyo despite the name) the prefecture also has a lot of other things to entertain its visitors such as beautiful beaches, great mountains for hiking and hot spring ryokan. 
Last week the Norway-Japan Society arranged a hiking trip to mount Nokogiri (鋸山) in Chiba, which name literarily means "saw mountain". The mountain is situated on the Bōsō Peninsula, and can be reached by ferry from Kurihama or alternatively by train from either Hota Station (保田) or Hamakanaya Station (浜金谷駅). We chose to take the ferry to Kurihama and started walking from there, and the trip took us a couple of hours. 
We took our time to enjoy the view on the way to the top, and could even spot Mt. Fuji in the far distance. Unfortunately Mt. Fuji is almost impossible to spot on the picture above, but it still shows the pretty view of the nearby houses and the sea.
View from Mt. Nokogiri

Among the things you can see during the hike is the special formations in the mountain side. The "saw mountain" actually got its name from the jagged outlines that were left after the large amounts of stone that have been removed from the mountain. The stone taken from from Mt. Nokogiri has mainly been used in building projects for instance in the Yasukuni shrine and in Waseda University. As a result of the implementation of stronger laws to protect the nature the stone production in Mt. Nokogiri came to an end in 1982. Today the place is mainly used for tourism, but the stone production did however leave a lasting mark on both the mountainside and the way people refer to the mountain, as its official name Kenkonzan (乾坤山・けんこんざん) is rarely used by common people.

In addition to the remains of the stone production at Mt. Nokogiri the mountain is also the home of the Nihon-ji temple complex (日本寺), a temple founded in 725 by the order of the Emperor Shōmu. In order to enter the temple area you have to pay an 600 yen entrance fee, and along with the entrance to the mountain area you'll get a small tourist map of the mountain trails. 
The first view that met us was a large statue carved into the mountain side called the Hyakushaku Kannon (百尺観音). We took a group picture together and continued our trip up towards the overhanging rock at the top of Mt. Nokogiri. 
On the top of the mountain you can find the Nihonji Tenbodai (日本時展望台) observation deck where we were rewarded with a splendid view of the bay area. Right next to the observation deck was the overhanging rock & famous viewpoint called the "View of Hell" (地獄のぞき), but as there was a line of people waiting to go out on the cliff we decided to just enjoy the view from the observation deck. 
"View of Hell" (地獄のぞき Jigoku Nozoki)
The "View of Hell" reminded me a bit of home, as it almost looked like a miniature version of the famous Norwegian tourist attraction "Trolltunga".
The "View of Hell" seen from the observation deck
After our stop at the observation deck we started our descent from the mountain, and on the way down we passed by several miniature Buddhist figures. These statues are named the Sengohyaku Rakan (せんごひゃくらかん - 千五百羅漢) , and they were made during the Edo period in the years between 1779 and 1798. In total there are supposed to be around 1,553 small statues to be found on the mountain.
There are many interesting things to see at Mt. Nokogiri, but the most famous thing to see within the temple complex you can find the Japan's largest Buddha statue (Daibutsu) carved out of a single rock. The statue was first made in 1783, but after having suffering some damages it had to go through a four-year long reparation that lasted until 1969. The statue is 31 meters tall, but with the mountain and sky in the background it didn't actually look as big as it really is.

Some pictures of another statue to the left of the big Buddha statue:

After having relaxed in the sun by the big Buddha statue it was time to head down to the station on the other side from where we had arrived.
We had a late lunch at a restaurant close to Hota station with sashimi fish caught right of the coast of Minami-Boso. The sushi-chef and his wife told us about the fishing industry. They weren't too happy with the popularity of kaiten sushi, which is destroying the business of regular sushi restaurants (and apparently holds lower quality than other sushi restaurants)
Local sushi lunch
In our case we did the whole visit to Mt. Nokogiri on foot, but for those who prefer to to do the trip without the hiking it is also possible to reach the top by riding the Nokogiriyama Ropeway, which runs from Hamakanaya Station.

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About Anette
Anette came to Japan as an exchange student in 2010, met the love of her life and got stuck. From her base in Tokyo she writes about her experiences as a full-time worker in Tokyo and about her travels in Japan and abroad. She's a free-spirited adventurer who enjoys both the great outdoors and her urban lifestyle.

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Adventures ofAnette

A modern day shield-maiden who loves to explore the unbeaten paths of the world. From her base in Tokyo, Anette takes on both rural and urban challenges, and goes by the motto "No challenge too big, no adventure too small"!
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