When it comes to big buddha statues in Tokyo’s neighbouring prefecture Kanagawa, the majority of people will quite naturally think of the Great Buddha in Kamakura but there is actually another one about 14 kilometres east of that which is closer to the capital city.
When it comes to large and interesting buddhas I am usually prepared to travel fairly long distances for them but this was one much closer to home and believe it or not I had no idea of its existence until I saw a friend post something about it on Facebook a year or two ago. I immediately checked out its location and saved it in my ‘Want to go’ places and, as is often the case, then forgot about it for ages.
The time to visit finally came on December 23rd last year and I even managed to persuade my colleague and friend James to join me. We ventured on over to the Yokosuka area of Tokyo’s neighbouring prefecture Kanagawa and met up at Oppama Station which is on the Keikyu Main Line. From there it was a 20-25 minute walk to Takatoriyama Park on what was a nice sunny Winter morning. Hiking courses around the park take from 20 to 50 minutes so nothing too extreme.
We were quite excited by the first sighting of rock and I did wonder if that was it but we were just getting started! Much like when I went to visit an old stone quarry in Gunma a couple of years ago there was a feeling of having discovered some ancient ruins that have been around for centuries but in reality it’s a work of art which is only about 60 years old!
The appearance of the sheer rock is the result of collecting stone some time between the Meiji era (1868-1912) and the early Showa era (1926-1989) if I can be so vague! This was a quarry for construction with the Takatori stone being used as a material for building the foundations and walls of houses, among other things. Again, quite vague but information about this place is not so abundant!
It seemed like the vertical walls would be a good for doing some rappeling and abseiling and sure enough moments later we came across someone doing exactly that. The myriad of small holes on the rock surface are traces of harkens (some kind of climbing equipment) that were driven in for mountaineering practice. The rock quality is supposedly fragile so it can be a dangerous practice. By chance we had already planned to do some indoor climbing (bouldering) with another mate a few days after this trip.
Beforehand, I had been expecting a tight and compact place with rocky cliff-faces amidst a forest or something. However, it did open up quite a bit at some points and was surprisingly wide with an area of cherry trees that were planted in the mid-80s to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the Yokosuka Mountaineering Association.
After only about 15 minutes we walked through this crevice (below) and came to the main point of interest which had enticed me to visit this place.
One has to look back after walking through the gap in the rocks as that’s where there is a buddha carved into the rock. We nearly walked right past it! It was produced over 12 months by Mitsuru Fujishima in the late 1950s. The face is a more gentle looking one compared to other buddhas, and there is apparently something of a powerful and mysterious atmosphere in this area.
That wasn’t the end for us though as we continued on to an even more rocky part of the 139 metre tall mountain.
The geolocial features were impressive and supposedly resemble Mount Myōgi in Gunma in some way but as I don’t think I’ve seen that on my numerous visits to that prefecture I can neither confirm or deny its similarity. I will one day though!
There was some kind of observation deck atop one of the rocks so we climbed up to that which was probably the only slighly taxing part of the hiking course.
It really was quite the sight from the top as it was a reat panoramic view of Tokyo Bay, Sagami Bay, the Boso Peninsula in Chiba, the rest of the Miura Peninsula and the rocks themselves.
As I said before, we went here just before Christmas so it felt good to burn off a few calories ahead of all the feasting but our work was undone much sooner than that!!
- Takatoriyama Park is located at 3-3 Shonantakatori, Yokosuka, Kanagawa-ken.
Bonus: As a reward for our efforts we then embarked on a food challenge of sorts. At that time McDonalds were selling 30 Chicken McNuggets (with special seasonal sauces) for 750 yen. Presumably that’s a family size portion rather than just for one person but we bought 30 each! It may have been something of a challenge for us two amateurs but a quick google search shows the pros can do at least four times more!
Click here to read ‘Tokyo Daytripper: The Lost World Ruins Of A Stone Quarry In Gunma’
Click here to read ‘Tokyo Daytripper: Gojira-Koen (Godzilla Park)’
Click here to read ‘Tokyo Daytripper: Monkey-ing About On Sarushima’