I recently returned home from my second trip to Japan and I feel like I somehow managed to have more fun the second time around than I did the first. And I honestly didn’t think that was possible. Japan is a place I feel I could return to one hundred times and probably never get tired of it. This time, I went with my sister and it was her first time in Japan, and travelling out of the country. We had a blast, both revisiting spots I wanted her to see and checking out new areas that I’ve been wanting to explore.
Nokogiriyama (Mt. Nokogiri) was a place I honestly hadn’t heard of until I started planning for my most recent trip. I was researching good day trips out of Tokyo and came across it. I had added it to my page of possible day trips, and decided we’d only go if we ended up getting the JR Pass. Well, when a concert we wanted to attend was all the way in Fukuoka and we weren’t anywhere near Fukuoka, we decided why the hell not, it’s only 5 1/2 hours on the shinkansen, and bought the JR Pass.
Now I’m not saying you should only go here if you have the JR Pass, because you can still get there via ferry and it’s not really too expensive without a pass on the train, anyway. If you’re near Yokohama, head to the Tokyo-wan ferry port and the ticket machines have an English option.
We ended up taking the train, like I said, because we had the JR Pass. Without the JR Pass, it’s around $18 USD one way, so about $40 roundtrip (2019). You’ll take the Sobu line from Tokyo Station, changing at the Kumitsu station to the Uchibo line, and from there, ride to Hama-Kanaya station. It’s a small station, and there are maps and pamphlets to get you to the ropeway. We couldn’t exactly understand the map and just… sort of started walking, because that’s what we do, and when we got a bit closer, there were signs for the ropeway.
Ropeway- 500 Yen one way, 950 yen roundtrip
Nihon-ji Temple grounds- 600 yen
So, uh… we actually made a huge whoops mistake and took a scenic train around the Boso Peninsula, and it was the best mistake we made. Luckily, we left in the 7 o’clock hour, so we had plenty of time to putt along the gorgeous peninsula before arriving at Hama-Kanaya station, and still have time to explore for hours, then make it back to Tokyo for dinner. If this sounds like your jam (it’s an awesome jam and bang for your buck with the JR Pass), we took the Wakashio line for Awa-Kamogawa, then take the Uchibo line to Hama-Kanaya station. It really was a gorgeous scenic train ride.
Anyway… Nokogiriyama! Let’s be real here, unless you are in really, really great shape… take the ropeway up. There is so much to see up there and so many stairs. In fact, I read that there are 2,639 steps. And you will go up, down, and back up again so that you can get to other areas. There are maps at the ropeway station, take one! Look it over and it will help you decided what order you want to see things in, so that you can take the least amount of steps possible. That was my goal, anyway! When you’re there seeing all of these amazing sights, it doesn’t seem like that many stairs, but you’ll still probably feel it. Especially the next day, and it is so worth it. You can take the ropeway roundtrip, but we opted to walk down the other side, which will put you closer to Hota station. But I’ll get to that later.
Right at the top of the ropeway station, you get your first WOW views. You’re staring over Tokyo Bay/Boso Peninsula and it is breath taking. I mean:
And pictures can never do justice to being there. Trust me, it’s a view you won’t soon forget. Begin your walk down the trail and you’ll come to the entrance for Nihon-ji Temple grounds. They gave us another map when we paid, but I’m not sure if that is always what happens, so I would recommend grabbing one from the ropeway station, just in case.
The first set of stairs we came to took us up to another gorgeous viewpoint. We packed a lunch (let’s be real, we packed a lunch everywhere we went because Japan is perfect for picnics) and we decided that stop one would be where we ate, get some food for fuel, and enjoy the stunning scenery. Make sure you bring an empty plastic sack whenever you plan on picnicking, so that you can store your garbage until one becomes available.
After eating, we headed up to the Sawtooth mountain, also known as Jigoku Nozoki (glimpse into hell). There are a couple of view points here, and a decently paced line of the view. It was a really cool spot. Photo tip, if you want to get a good shot of the way the mountain juts out, you can get a really good view of it when you’re checking out Hyakushaku Kannon.
Which… how cool is this? A giant depiction of the goddess of mercy, this was carved into the wall in the 1960’s. There’s also kanji carved into the wall, if you look closely in the area. This was once a quarry, hence the cool textures in the stone.
Now all along your travels through the magical mountain routes, you are going to see Sengohyaku Rakan (1500 stone statues). There are so many Buddha statues, some with no heads, some with repaired heads, some heads on their own, sitting next to another statue. Some that look clean, some that are overgrown or moss covered, some that are camouflaged and harder to spot. My good lord, what a sight to see.
There will be donation boxes set around some of the areas, and I don’t know how much truth there is to it, but I’ve heard the 5 and 50 yen coins are often given as donation, something related to the way they have the holes in the middle. If anyone knows anything more about this, please drop me a comment!
Then, of course, there is the giant Ishidaibutsu. This was carved in the 1700’s, I believe I read 1000 years after the temple was founded. The craftsmanship is outstanding, and it’s hard to capture how big it really is, but dang, it is amazing to be in the presence of.
The temple itself was super peaceful and nobody was in the area but us.
This is where you’ll either turn around and make your way back up the stairs, and to the ropeway, or if you’re taking the train and ready for another type of adventure (which, I know you’re tired now, but the stroll through the beautiful town of Kyonan is so worth it), keep going passed the temple and follow the path down. There is some gorgeous scenery along the way.
You’ll finally exit the temple grounds and walk down a beautiful riverside road, with what more but amazing sights to see.
There are periodic signs that point you toward Hota station, and you’ll walk through the cutest residential areas and farming lands. There was one point that we stopped to try to find out what the noise was we were hearing, and as we grew quiet, the sound grew so much louder. It was frogs! Hundreds of frogs singing in the damp farmlands. A cute old woman was gardening in her yard and gave us the sweetest smile and bowed her head as we passed by, we returned it and couldn’t help but feel the strangest happiness as we continued toward the station. If I could somehow live in Kyonan, I would.
Just look at this adorable beach town, I absolutely loved it.
The train doesn’t run very often, but we got lucky and only had to wait about ten minutes for the next one coming through. I think it runs about every hour. Kick back on that train, relax, and probably fall asleep, because you’re tired as hell and you earned that nap.