I took this day drip on February 7th, 2019. My objective was to take a flexible day trip – one that was just close enough from Tokyo to get back in one day if I wanted to, but still far enough that it could justify an overnight if I chose to. Since I like the ocean, Chiba seemed a good fit, plus I really like taking ferry boats so it was a good choice.
As with many of my spontaneous trips, I did not have a specific destination in mind, and I did very little prior research, preferring to discover as I go. The highlight of the trip turned out to be Nokogiri-yama (or “saw-mountain”), as its name implies, is like the teeth on the blade of a saw.
During the Edo era, this mountain was an extensive stone quarry and the stone from here was carried down the mountain and shipped from Kanaya port to Tokyo and is known to have been used in famous buildings such as Waseda University and the Yasukuni Shrine. The stone cutting as active until the 1970’s
A really fun and easy ferry ride
I started my journey out of Tokyo from Shinagawa on the Keikyu line. Taking the express, it was a straight shot all the way to Kurihama where the ferry Tokyo-wan ferry leaves for Chiba. From the station, it was about a 2km walk to the ferry port.
The ferry terminal was quite nice with some small restaurants and cafes. The ferry leaves hourly and the round trip was only 1,720 yen round trip. You can buy the tickets at a window or by a machine.
Onboard, the ferry is very comfortable and has ample seating. There are vending machines, a shop and a cafe. It makes for a very comfortable 40 minute ride with nice views.
The onboard shop featured a wide selection of goods featuring the Chiba mascot – Chiba-kun.
The area around the port is quite nice. There is a large complex just adjacent with a restaurant called “The Fish” and a large retail shop with an extensive assortment of local goods for omiyage giving
As with many of my trips, it is pretty spontaneous without a lot of research. Although my ultimate goal was Tateyama just south, Kaneya looked like a place to spend some time in. Since I like climbing mountains, the entrance to Mt. Nokogori was a short walk from the port and is famous for it’s views, so I decided to take this walk before moving on to Tateyama.
There are two ways to get up the mountain – either by ropeway or by few choices of paths. Luckily, I knew enough Japanese to avoid going to the ropeway (to the right). However, even if you read Japanese, there can be some difficult choices along the road. I ended up taking a path that admittedly looked little used, and it ended up being closed so I had to double back.
The walk was a semi-challenging walk through the forest, starting with man-made steps and trailing off to natural steps of exposed roots.
Now, the trail turns to these worn looking rocks. I was later to learn that this path served an important function in the past.
What I started this walk, I really did realize that I would happen upon what was a very important industrial site in the past. Although I did see references to the stone industry, I had no idea that this site was so impressive and significant. I had some mixed feelings though; in the modern age I would probably view these operations with disgust as they literally deface an entire mountain. However, this was a long time ago during the Edo era before people really thought about the environment, so in this case I will give the industrial destruction of the environment a “pass”. Yet, this kind of destructive stone mining still does exist in some parts of Japan – for example I witnessed it in Saitama (Chichibu) where this practiced https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/11/21/national/social-issues/jobs-battle-environment-sacred-scarred-mount-buko/#.XGOjDzMzaHs
Going up the mountain, there are a number of trails to choose from and sites to see, all clearly laid out in guides that are posted in regular intervals. Some of the methods for extracting the most desired stone quality were impressive. The remains look almost as if they were intentionally carved out as monuments.
Continuing to the very top, there are some impressive views of the ocean. At this point, they claim that you can see the curvature of the earth. It was a clear by cold and windy day, giving a spectacular view. Some of the wind gusts were so strong I was afraid that it would blow the phone out of my hand.
Going down the Shariki course, there was a stop that explained how the stones were carried down. This was all by human power, largely by women carrying up to 220kg in one car down the stone path. This must have been really grueling work to keep the cars braked as they go down.
Passing through the well-worn paths where the shariki carried the stones down.
Down from the mountain, I walked around the village of Kanaya. Not so much there, but I noticed this modern looking co-working space that had a sign in English touting that it was good for bloggers and digital nomads, for 2,000 yen per day or 8,000 yen per month. Quite unusual to find this kind of place in a small town.
Before leaving Chiba, I wanted to check out more of the places along the coast. I went down farther to Tateyama station. It seems to be a popular place for going to the beach during the summer, but of course in February it is pretty deserted. I found the architecture of the station to have a really vacation feel to it.
Being in the off-season, many restaurants and cafes were closed. It was a very windy day, but it was nice to see the beach anyway. There was a nice museum and dining complex just south. I did go check it out, but sorry I forgot to take pics!
Across the Boso peninsula to Chikura
I had considered an overnight stay, and on my searches I located a reasonably priced pension that was not far from the beach on the other side of the peninsula in a city called Chikrua. Again, I was irrationally intrigued by the name (千倉) , or literally “one thousand warehouses”. In my mind, there is often a historical significance to these names. Could this have been a major trans-shipment point in the past? Well, I took a brief walk around and it was one of the more run-down and deserted places I have seen, and given the cold weather, probably not that attractive without a sunny beach to spend some time on, so I abandoned the idea of checking out the pension which was 2km away. I got back on the train and went back to Kanaya to grab a meal before going back on the ferry for a 18:30 departure.
Back in Kanaya
I had wanted to dine at the big complex with The Fish restaurant and enjoy the excellent view of the ocean, but I got there before the last order close of 17:00. Given it was off-seasons, there was not a lot of options, so I went to a Gast family restaurant just nearby. Gast is like a Denny’s type concept – nice an comfortable and cheap, but pretty much the same menu no matter where you go.
The ride again on the return ferry was enjoyable. Not many passengers, outside of a group of about 20 golfers. Chiba is a very popular affordable golf destination.
I got home to Tokyo around 9:30pm. Overall, it was really an excellent, affordable and easy day trip. While I did not end up spending the night, it might have been a good idea since there seemed to be a lot more to see. I would say the trip is worth it just for the ferry ride itself and Nokogori-yama which makes for a good light hike and a education about an important Edo era industrial site.