Last year for Golden Week (super long vacation during the first week of May in Japan), I set out on a mission to spend my time outside. I decided that it didn’t matter if I was going to be going by myself or with friends, so I made plans and off I went. Unfortunately, my trip was cut short when ten minutes after arriving, I managed to trip and break my foot. As of yet, it is the stupidest thing I have ever done. Like, I am still in physiotherapy. None the less, I decided to try again this year. The goal remained the same – to go on a day trip outside of Tokyo and into nature (without breaking any more bones!). So off to Nokogiriyama I went!
Nokogiriyama is a mountain in Chiba on the Boso Peninsula. The mountain is particularly famous for its sharp face and a frightening overhang called “Peak Into Hell” (地獄覗き or Jigoku-Nozoki). It’s sharp face is the result of years of mining. I was first introduced to the idea of going several years ago by a very informative article on GaijinPot (seen here), yet I just “never” had the time to go or anybody to go with. Yet finally, I decided to bite the bullet and just go. No need to wait around – it’s a perfectly great spot to go to on your own. I was largely drawn in by the idea of an easy hike assisted by rope way and the promise of a buddha more impressive than the one in Kamakura. It was a great choice.
Getting to the Top
I’m lucky. I live in Kamata and am well-situated to get basically anywhere around Tokyo without much difficulty. For this day trip, I started at Keikyu-Kamata Station (京急蒲田駅). From there, it was off to Keikyu-Kurihama (京急久里浜駅) – a journey that ended up being grueling since I had to stand for 50 minutes. Then, I walked to the Tokyo Wan Ferry Terminal. There is a bus, but I went on Sunday so the bus wasn’t running very frequently. Also, Google Maps made the terminal took much closer to the station than it actually is….Then, I had to take the ferry – which takes around 40 minutes one-way. After arrival, more walking to the rope way. Then a 50 minute wait for the four minute ride up the Swiss styled rope way. (Note to self: Don’t go to places like this when the whole country is on vacation). After a long journey, I was finally at the top of the mountain!!
- Keikyu-Kamata to Keikyu-Kurihama and back: 1,276 yen
- Two-way ticket on the ferry: 1,130 yen
- Single ticket for the rope way: 500 yen
- Bus ride back from the ferry terminal: 190 yen
Exploring the Mountain
After reaching the top, I quickly realized that the wait to get back down on the rope way was extreme – we’re talking over an hour. I resigned myself (somewhat happily) to the fact that I would be walking down and set off. The mountain is run by Nihon Temple (日本寺) and costs 600 yen to enter. You get a coloured ticket and a very useful map. There are many different pathways to many different things. I mainly wanted to see the buddha statues and the scary as hell overhang. Conveniently, I didn’t care if I actually got to stand on the overhang since there was a line with an estimated wait time of 50 minutes. I got a great view anyway. It’s probably safe to assume that it would be less crowded on weekdays or outside of Golden Week but I’m not sure. I mean, I got a great shot anyway so I’m not complaining.
Next, I had to walk down a dozen flights of stairs. The path goes through the forest and it’s wonderfully quiet. I chose the longer route to the buddha so there weren’t many people. Luckily for my rehabilitating foot and lower back, most of the steps are actually built in and not just some rocks. Nonetheless, it wasn’t an easy descent for me – definitely no problem for a physically fit person though. After a few rests I finally made it to the main attraction – the large stone buddha! Also…the bathroom, because there is only one on the mountain after you pay for entry. I found it to be much more impressive than the one in Kamakura. It is much bigger after all. I got some cool omikuji (おみくじ or a fortune) and continued my descent down the mountain.
Where I was promptly hit with a countryside Japan problem – a mountain blocking my way from getting back to the ferry depot and the next train station being far away. At first, I was really stressed but I quickly realized how relaxing the walk to the train station would be. The road to the station is shoved between the train tracks and a bunch of farms. I got to see a lot of dry rice paddies and older style farm houses. There was also a lot of bamboo. It made a great addition to my mountain journey. Even if I had to wait for 45 minutes at Hota Station (保田駅) to get back to Hama-Kanaya Station (浜金谷駅) – a mere three minutes by train. I finally got back to the ferry port, bought some delicious souvenir cookies for my coworkers, and made my way home. On the way home, I managed to take the bus back to the station.
Overall, it was an excellent trip. I am very grateful to myself for doing it. It took a lot of courage for me to go out on my own and tackle a mountain. I still have a lot of pain left and I need to be really careful – even just going to and from work. I am glad I went and I can happily recommend the journey, however long, to anyone looking for a relaxing day trip outside of Tokyo.