Japan has several Daibutsu (大仏) or “Big Buddha” statues, the two most famous of which are the Daibutsu in Nara and Kamakura. The largest one is in Ibaraki, called the Ushiku Daibutsu. It stands at 120 meters, though it was only built in 1993.
The Daibutsu I went to see is the second largest one, at 31 meters tall, which is known as the Nihon-ji Daibutsu. It’s in Chiba, next to Tokyo, within the grounds of the Nihon-ji Temple. Work started in 1783, and was finished in 3 years. Restoration work was done in the 1960s.
Apart from the Nihon-ji temple and the Daibutsu, there are other things you can do here. First of all, as it is on Mt. Nokogiri, you can do some easy hiking. The peak sits at only about 320 meters. From the top you get a great view of Tokyo Bay.
Around the temple are 1,500 “arhat” statues. They look like this:
There’s also a giant carving of Buddha called the Hyaku Shaku Kannon. It’s about 30 meters high, almost as high as the Daibutsu.
Finally, you can see the remnants of an old quarry, which stopped operations about 60 years ago.
They removed so much stone from this area that they basically split this mountain in half. That portion on the left that is jutting out has a viewing deck on top, and is called Jigoku Nozoki, which means “Peek into Hell”.
How to get there:
It’s pretty far from Tokyo, but you can take a train from Tokyo Station to Hamakanaya Station in Chiba. It’ll take about 2 hours and will cost you between 3,000 to 4,000 yen depending on whether you get reserved seats or not.
At Hamakanaya Station, you’ll take a 10 minute walk to the Nokogiri Ropeway. You’ll find English maps to the ropeway at Hamakanaya. Or you can click here for a map (Japanese). The very first map on that link is the route.
The ropeway takes you to the Nihon-ji Temple grounds at the top of Mt. Nokogiri. From there you can start your exploring.