My friend Tomo and I have a tradition over the last couple years of selecting a location that neither of us have been to before. After we find the place to visit we load up our camera gear and head out to the location. This year we chose to go to Nokogiriyama in Chiba Prefecture. Nokogiriyama literally means sawed cut mountain in Japanese. It was an active stone quarry from the Edo times up until Show (20th century). It has now been taken over by a large temple complex and the walls and carved caves are filled with buddhist sculptures.
One TV show described Nokogiriyama as a place that Indiana Jones would visit. And this I found to be a bit true. The jungle side of Chiba Prefecture was quickly engulfing the deep cut walls of the quarry, and there were, at times, mysterious stone steps that lead nowhere.
As my friend and I made our way up the hundreds of steps the sounds of the summer and also the autumn cicadas was deafening. The air was as thick as miso soup, but we were fortunate because the sun was hiding behind the clouds, and therefore the weather wasn’t that bad. By the time we reached the top of the mountain the fog was just starting to wash over the the stone face. It was pretty amazing. I hadn’t really seen any fog since I had left the San Francisco Bay area ten years ago. Just standing there watching the fog roll up one side of the mountain and then dissipate over the other.
There is a lookout point called “Peering Into Hell” on the top of the mountain. Not quite sure why they call it hell, because the view is quite amazing. It was jungle below, with the vertical quarry walls dropping vertically below our feet.
It was a great day to wander around the sprawling complex. So removed from the hustle of Tokyo life. I sometimes forget that there is more to life in Japan that the daily grind. I am thankful for my friend Tomo for driving us out to Nokogiriyama, and for reminding us both of the beautiful intersection between the manmade and the wild jungle.