Tuesday, July 13, 2010
A visit to the largest stone-carved daibutsu, to one of the oldest temples in Japan, and a mountain hike, all included in a visit to the nihon-ji temple big Buddha at the Nokogiri Mountain, Chiba prefecture.
The Nihon-ji daibutsu with 31 m is the largest stone carved daibutsu and one of the largest Buddha statues in Japan (Kamakura Budda is 13.75 m for comparison). The statue represents the kusurishi nyorai or Buddha of healing, holding a medicine jar with the left hand.
The daibutsu completed in 1783, originally was 37.7 m tall, losing almost 7 m to erosion, it had a major restoration in 1966, and now part of the admission fee is used for restoration and maintenance.
The temple is located in the Nokogiri Mountain, divided in five areas that can be accessed by climbing the temple well maintained trails, or by using the cable car in the Hamakayama station to the top of the mountain and make your way down.
The first area is the temple access area or Omotesando where the Kanon temple is located. A short path climbs to to the middle area where most of the temples are located: The Nihon-ji bell (designated an important cultural property), the Daikoku hall, the Yakushi shrine, the Kenkon inari and the path to heaven cave.
The next area is the Big Buddha square where the big-Buddha can be appreciated; there is also a Jizo statue at the square, surrounded by small statues.
The next area, the Rakan area, is a serie of caves and inlets, housing 1500 arhats statues; steep paths separate the caves some of them covered with moss, so good shoes are required for this area.
The last area or top of the mountain area, which I didn’t have enought time to visit, host a 100 feet Kanon carved on the mountain, and an observatory called a Jigoku nozoki (peep into hell), where the Boso peninsula and the bottom of the mountain, thus the name, can be appreciated.