This is part of a series of posts that highlights some of our memorable trips within Japan.
We consider ourselves as weekend warriors, at least previously, so we always try to find something to do during weekends. On one weekend of October 2013, I noticed a little less known attraction in Chiba called Nokogiriyama or Saw Mountain. As you will see below, the mountain is breathtaking, with some rare Buddhist mountainside carvings that we never saw anywhere else in Japan.
For some reason, this place is rarely mentioned in articles or guides for day trip destinations around Tokyo. Admittedly, it is a little bit far, about 3 hours away, and required us to depart from early from Tokyo to catch the bus across the Aqua line. But I must say, the trip was worth it.
After we've decided on the trip, we started by heading to Shinjuku Station, near the Odakyu department store... I believe we were suppose to catch the 7:00am bus to Kisarazu Station that day but you can easily check the schedule at the bus stop below. By the way Shinjuku was about 45 minutes away from where we used to live so it was an even longer journey for us.
Bus stop 35 in Shinjuku
The bus along the Aqua line from Yokohama to Chiba
Getting off the bus at Kisarazu Station... about 1.5hours after we boarded in Shinjuku
A shot of Kisarazu Station, it's relatively quiet on a Sunday morning.
We took the train to Hama-Kanaya Station
Outside Hama-Kanaya station... very small typical rural station in Japan
From the station, you will have to walk about 15 minutes or so along the shoreline to reach the Ropeway.
You will pass by this small torii along the way
Base of the ropeway... lots of buses but it's not all that crowded and most tourists are local too.
Entrance to the ropeway station
Ticket counter, adult is JPY500 oneway and JPY900 round trip, children is JPY250 oneway and JPY450 round trip.
Lining up for the ropeway
View from the ropeway looking down and beyond... that's Yokohama I believe at the other side.
A very unusual looking post box right at the view deck
A small shrine at the view deck
View from the viewdeck looking at Tokyo
This is the only restaurant on top serving anything from Ramen to Sundae cones
GF had some fish, miso soup
Miso Ramen for me
There you go, 329 meters above see level and very windy
Need to look closer?
From here, you will enter the shrine, I believe there are 2 shrines... there's a minimal fee to enter.
After walking for a few minutes, you will see this carving, carved directly on the rock surface. Amazing!
If you look up from here, you will see the overhang cliff... which you can access too after some steep climb
Another shot of the carving
GF! Don't jump!!!
After this area, you can explore the other side of the mountain and check out the many Buddhas around, including the biggest rock carved Buddha in Japan.
Rock carved Daibutsu (Giant Buddha)
After what looks like a few hours of hiking up and down the mountain, we were back at the view deck/ropeway terminal... as you can see, the view is breathtaking.
Walked back to the station
It says 107KM from Tokyo
Rode the train towards Kisarazu
It was already sunset when we arrived at Kisarazu (about 1hour I believe).
Mitsui Outlet Park Kisarazu. This is the biggest Mitsui Outlet Park to date.
That was our day trip... from here we took the bus all the way back to Shinjuku.
The trip was well worth our time, it was a lot less touristy than most places we've been to in Japan with mostly local tourists around us. You can really feel the Japanese countryside as soon as you arrive at Kisarazu station, the stations and towns along the way are small, rustic and quiet. No food vendors along the streets to the ropeway station either, and everything was relatively cheap.
It was a pleasant surprise to see such a beautiful place like Nokogiriyama so close to Tokyo yet relatively unknown to many. I even asked my Japanese teacher and she said she never heard of it. So if you got a few days in Tokyo and tired of the usual tourist spots and traps... you might want to consider taking a side trip to this magnificent historic mountain.