The southern region of Chiba Prefecture on the Boso Peninsula, green and hilly, is a contrast with the flat and dense urban west of the prefecture. The region is designated as Minami Boso Quasi-National Park, a protected landscape with mountains, harbors, and even a marine park. Scattered throughout the rolling hills along the coast are temples, some spectacular and others intimate and historic.
In Futtsu City, the Tokyowan Kannon statue towering over Tokyo Bay was designed by a noted Buddhist artist in the 1960s as a war memorial and symbol of peace. The statue is a 30-minute walk from Sanukimachi Station on the Uchibo Line.
At Mount Nokogiri, the sawtooth mountain, is Nihonji, a sprawling temple complex that occupies a former rock quarry. Visitors can spot the little Buddhist sages carved in stone in grottoes on the paths up the mountainside. The temple is noted for two huge images: Kannon and the other Yakushi Nyorai, both over 30 m tall. If you choose to hike up, make sure you have sturdy shoes for the heart-pounding incline. Nihonji is a 10-minute drive or 1-hour walk from Hamakanaya Station on the Uchibo Line.
This Shingon Buddhist temple is noted for its spectacular cliffside location on Mount Funakata, the boat-shaped mountain. The Kannon Hall honoring the Goddess of mercy has a richly decorated ceiling depicting local flora. Gakkekannon Daifukuji is a 15-minute walk from Nakofunakata Station on the Uchibo Line.
Jorakuzan Mantokuji Temple
Yet another huge monument is Jorakuzan Mantokuji in Tateyama City. The statue is accessible by bus from Tateyama Station on the Uchibo Line.
Tateyama City’s modest Yoroji Temple is associated with En no Gyoja, the mystic who formulated the ascetic practice of Shugendo. Legend says the princess Fuse prayed for her health to be restored and met En no Gyoja here. The story is mentioned in Nanso Satomi Hakkenden, the novel celebrated at Tateyama Castle’s Hakkenden Museum. Yoroji is a 35-minute bus ride from Tateyama Station on the Uchibo Line.
For the Buddhist-curious and Nichiren adherents, Tanjouji in Kamogawa City is a must-see. It’s one of the four Nichiren places of pilgrimage in Japan. The name, tanjou, means birthday, and at this location, Nichiren was born in 1276. The Niomon housing the Nio guardian figures dating from 1703 is the only survivor of a fire that devastated the temple. The faithful have revived the temple over the last two centuries. Tanjouji is a 20 minute walk from Awa-Kominato Station on the Sotobo Line.