Look out the train window as you take the train a few stations south of Kisarazu Station, maybe on the way to or from Hamakanaya Station (the gateway to Nokogiri-yama Mountain) and you may see a tall white thing sticking out from the vegetation. I noticed this on a previous visit down that way and was intrigued to know what it was.
Unlike many Tokyoites, I’ve actually got a lot of love for Chiba as it’s where I began my Japan journey all those years ago. It’s very much an under-rated prefecture and I’m always happy to take a trip there to see something new which this time were a couple of sights in reasonably close vicinity of Sanukimachi Station on the Uchibō Line which is a short distance south of Kisarazu on the west coast of the peninsula. There is a map of the area on a board outside the station giving details of where things are but of course I didn’t notice it until I returned to the station!
A few minutes after heading west along the main road from Sanukimachi Station and there is a sign for this kannon at the turn off.
It’s a further 15 minutes walk up the winding road to the statue but it soon became apparent that things weren’t gonna be quite as I’d hoped. The sight of construction work is always a huge disappointment when you’ve travelled to see something but this was not exactly on the level of seeing scaffolding on the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona or whatever!
The actual name of this place is Tokyowan Kannon Temple but sadly the lower half of its 56 metre high white kannon statue is covered with scaffolding.
It seems that entry is usually a staggering 1000 yen so in a way I was almost pleased it wasn’t open as that really is a ridiculous fee for any place of worship. I paid the same recently at the Golden God Temple in Nasu and complained about that too as these aren’t even famous, busy places. I could understand it for a hugely popular temple in Kyoto or Kamakura or wherever but not in such a quiet, desolate countryside area.
Back at the station I then headed south-east to my next “sight” and looking back I could see just the top half (the good one!) of the kannon statue perched on top of the mountains in the distance. Between the station and my destination, there were these interesting multiple-face statues (below) in the middle of nowhere.
I’ve lost count of how many temples and shrines I’ve visited this year and here is another one to quite literally write about. As ever, it looked like a normal run-of-the-mill place but venture round the back past the usual jizo statues and so on (doraemon statues included!) and you come to a wooden hut. To the left of it is a cemetery but venture slightly to the right and there’s a surprise in store.
Details about this place are rather sketchy but what I can work out is that a husband and wife died and a full naked statue of the middle-aged woman stands aloft behind two sizeable rock carvings of the male and female anatomy.
The Seven Lucky Gods certainly have something to do with it all and they surround the more risqué stone carvings.
This temple is a 20 minute walk from Sanukimachi Station and the address is 358 Yahata, Futtsu. As I was exiting the temple I actually met the friendly owner who just said “sanpo?” (“taking a walk?”) to me. I responded in Japanese and added some other information about my journey before he then started speaking some English. Sadly, he didn’t have the vocabulary to explain anything too much about the nakedness in the temple!
Again I was a little bit disappointed given how far I’d come but was ultimately glad I had ticked them off my list of places to seek out in Chiba prefecture. There are a few more quirky b-grade sights in this area I still want to check out so I guess it won’t be too long before I’m back in town. I had a bit of time before the next train so had a quick walk back up the road in the direction of the kannon statue where I had earlier noticed an abandoned pachinko parlour.
My day in Chiba finished off near Aqua Bridge which crosses the bay to Umihotaru (basically a floating service station in the middle of the bay) from the Chiba side. The closest I could get was the marina area just north of where the bridge starts. It’s 50 minutes on foot from Iwane Station or a one hour walk from Sodegaura. I chose the latter as the next train didn’t stop at the former. I actually jogged on down to the area but I’m not sure if it was really worth it as I hadn’t really anticipated the distance between land and bridge being so far. Anyway, I’m still glad I made the journey as it’s better to know and have done rather than not know and not done.
Click here to read ‘Tokyo Daytripper: The Floating Service Station In The Middle Of Tokyo Bay’
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Click here to read ‘On The C*cks Trail……In Chiba!!’
Click here to read ‘Tokyo Daytripper: Chiba-jo Castle’