Documentary Photography | Bigass Buddhas

I'm sure that's not a politically correct title when referring to a Buddha, but it's 100% true: Japan has huge Buddhas. When I first arrived in Japan I think my first cultural experience was heading to Kamakura. For those of you who don't know, Kamakura, hosts one of the largest Buddhas you could possibly imagine.

For many travelers the Kamakura Buddha is perfect: it's convenient, picturesque, and what most people imagine Asia looks like. For some travelers though "off the beaten path" holds more value than traditional notions of what sights you should see and that's where my trip to Mt. Nokogiri begins.

I'll start by saying that there is more than one way to get to Mt. Nokogiri, but the way I find easiest is to leave Tokyo behind and travel South towards the Miura Peninsula. From Shinagawa station a Keikyu Line train headed to Misaiguchi will take you just where you need to be. It's a straight shot really, about a 45 minute ride, from Shinagawa to your final stop of Keikyu-Kurihama. It can get confusing here since the JR train line also runs in the area and has a station adjacent so when you're looking on a map you may notice that.

The train ride goes by quickly, especially if you were lucky enough to get a seat, and before you know it you're in Kurihama. For those of you who are accustomed to Tokyo, Kurihama will seem decidedly country and much more laid back. From the station you'll head south either by bus, taxi, or on foot. For me walking is the preferred method of travel anywhere so I walked and it takes right around 20-30 minutes depending on your pace to get from the train station to the Tokyo Wan Ferry terminal. My timing was perfect and the ferry was just getting ready to leave as I purchased my round-trip ticket.

The ferry ride is about 40 minutes as well so you've got to be sure you plan your trip accordingly. All of these little chunks start to add up and if you're not careful you could end up cutting your trip short. Also, it's a great idea to check and see what the operating times are before you leave. The ropeway at Mt. Nokogiri for example holds different hours during different parts of the year so if one isn't careful one could end up walking down the mountain.

From the ferry you'll immediately see the Mt. Nokogiri ropeway mentioned earlier. Use your instinct to get there. Honestly, you can't miss it, but if you're worried about it you basically walk straight off the ferry and follow the curve of the road until you see the sign. To make it easy it's the only ropeway on the mountain. Seriously, you can't miss it.

At the top of the parking lot is a building in which you need to purchase your ticket. Be sure you specify round trip. Otherwise you could end up walking back down or paying more for another one way ticket at the top.

That's pretty much the gist of it. You've made it. You're here. There is however one last payment point if you want to see the Buddhas. All told this is a solid day trip and comes in at right around ¥5,000 per person. The ride from Shinagawa to Keikyu-Kurihama is ¥760, the round trip Tokyo Wan Ferry ticket is ¥1,280, the ropeway is ¥900 round trip, and the admittance once you've reached the gates for the Buddhas is ¥600.

I have to make one shameless plug here. If you're hungry after a long day of buddha seeing, ropeway using, and ferry riding then you have to stop by Pizza Gonzo in Kanaya. You will walk right past it and not even notice so use this address in google maps, 3869-2 Kanaya Futtsu, or look for the hand painted signs on your way back. They were super friendly, serve the best pizza in this part of Japan, and we're eager to talk about our journey. Support rad local businesses and go to Pizza Gonzo.