Nokogiri yama hosts the largest Buddha in Japan – much larger than the popular Daibutsu in Kamakura or Nara’s Todai-ji Buddha. Hiking to the top of Nokogiri yama (Saw mountain) will prove you worthy as pilgrims to see the sacred Daibutsu, the two hundred shaku kannon and the 1500 Arhat statues. The villages around the mountain give you an insight into local farming communities- a much more laid back Japan to the one normally experienced in Tokyo.
Getting there and away
Nokogiri yama is easily accessed by train. The Uchibo line from Chiba will take you south to Hama-kanaya station and the base of the moutain. From Kisarazu, at the end of the Tokyo Bay Aqua Line, it is Y570 to Hama-kanaya station with a travel time of about 50 minutes.
If you wish to enter on foot from the southern side of the mountain (closest to the Daibutsu) take the train one stop further to Hota station. From there it is about a 20-30 minute walk to the base of the mountain where you can enter through the main approach to the temple, Nihon-ji.
There is also a ferry direct to the town of Hama-kanaya (40 mins, Y600) from Tokyo Ferry bay to Port Kanaya.
From Hama-kanaya station walk about 10 minutes down the road along the shore until you reach a road on the left with a big red gate. This is the entrance to Nokogiriyama.
The ropeway starts here- enter the white building at the top of the car park. Adults Y900 return or Y450 one way. It is a 4 minute trip up to the lookout. However the ropeway is not open during strong winds or at certain times of the year. Opening hours 9-4pm.
The other way up the moutain (unless you have a car and drive up to one of the 2 carparks on the mountain) is to hike for 40 minutes up the mountain. From the ropeway building follow the road beyond the carpark up the hill. Take the left path at the first junction (the right path is for cars) and then turn right into a small opening with mossy steps. Follow the stairs along the narrow path until you get the ropeway end (with a small shop for buying ice cream and drinks).
From the ropeway end it is a 90-120 minute return walk to all of the sights. Alternatively, it is a 80 minute walk past the sights and to the south side of the hill where Hota train station is about 3km south.
Things to do
While the fishing town is famous for its seafood, it is just a small village so dining and accommodation options are few.
On the mountain there are numerous sacred sites to visit. First you will need to enter the park – Y600 for adults and Y400 for children.
The two hundred shaku kannon is a tall carved relief cut into the rock.
The Ruriko Observatory is a lookout from which there is a sharp drop (329m) to the bottom. On a clear day you can see Mt Fuji across the Bay.
Walk down the stairs past the 1,500 Arhat statues and along the Daibutsu-mar approach to the Daibutsu (the Giant Buddha). Follow the path down the hill to the Nhon-ji (Temple of Japan) with lovely manucured gardens and ponds.
A word of warning: there are many steps, often slippery or eroded. Wear sensible footwear and carry water.