Nokogiri-yama, or the saw-tooth mountain, is a two-hour train ride from central Tokyo in Chiba prefecture, located by the coast of Tokyo Bay near the Kanaya ferry terminal. Perhaps best- (or only known) in the UK as the end point of Top Gear’s race across Japan a few years ago, we had originally planned to visit when our friend Dakes came to visit in 2015. Indeed, we actually made the two hour journey but had to back out at the last minute when we found the cable car to the top of the mountain was closed due to high winds. Due to our typical bad planning, we didn’t know about the hiking routes, and hadn’t had any lunch by the time we arrived, so changed our plans to take a ferry trip across Tokyo Bay for an all-you-can-eat Chinese at Yokohama’s Chinatown instead.

Two years later, however, with slightly better planning, we made a return trip fully intending to hike to the top, a walk expected to take about an hour. After arriving at Hama-Kanaya station, we had a quick fish lunch before embarking. Faced with a choice of 3 routes, we selected the middle one, not knowing that it seemed to be predominantly steep steps rather than the gentle slopes the others appeared from above. It was an unusually jolly spring day, and with the sun beatingĀ  down on us as we climbed, we worked up quite a sweat and needed a few water and coat and then jumper de-clothing breaks. Occasionally passing an envious glance at people coming down the other way, we soon gained commanding views of the bay.

The final set of steps took us out at a little hut, the entrance to the top of the mountain where we had to pay 600 yen to see any of the good stuff. Remarking how pissed you must be to get to the top only to realise you didn’t have any change, we happily paid up and could gaze upon the Buddha which was the end point to the Top Gear race. At the time, we hadn’t actually seen that particular episode, and were surprised when we watched it afterwards as there’s a much more impressive Buddha just round the corner which would have been a much better ending point.

Top Gear’s finish Buddha

We decided that the slightly less impressive Buddha must have been chosen due to the much better camera angles afforded by being overlooked by the saw tooth itself. A further 5 minute climb took us there, and after a 15 minute queue we were able to take a photo ourselves. After dropping in on the bigger and more impressive Buddha, we took a leisurely stroll down the other side of the mountain before collapsing on the train journey back to Tokyo.

The bigger, better Buddha just down the hill