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47 Prefectures from A to Y


Mount Oyama

  • Japanese
  • Chinese


Mount Oyama is a wonder. Compact and beautiful, it's nestled in the northern reaches of Isehara City in Kanagawa's Tanzawa-Oyama Quasi-National Park. We set out to discover what it had to offer with Eiichi Kaji, manager of the Isehara Tourist Association.

Religious pilgrims have sought blessings on Mount Oyama for centuries. Oyama Afuri Shrine was established on its slopes over 2,000 years ago. "Swordsmen and then later craftsmen and farmers came, and continue to come, to have the tools of their trade blessed here," Mr. Kaji explains. Since the shrine's name derives from the expression amefuri, or 'rainy weather,' this is a place for farmers to pray for rain
as well.

Although you can hike up Mount Oyama from its base, most people opt for the convenience of the cable car, which can be boarded following an enjoyable 15-minute hike from Oyama Cable Bus Stop. The beauty of the surrounding countryside unfolds before your eyes as the cable car makes its way up the mountainside. On its way, the car makes a brief stop at Oyama-dera Temple. Established in the year 755, this temple is particularly beautiful when surrounded by autumn colors, its steep approach lined with dozens of remarkable Buddhist statues. The cable car then continues up to Oyama Afuri Shrine, situated perhaps halfway up the mountain. From here you can enjoy spectacular views of the island of Enoshima, the Miura Peninsula and even Chiba Prefecture across the bay.

A 90-minute climb from the Afuri-jinja cable car stop will bring you to the shrine's principal building as well as an incredible view of the entire region from the mountain's peak. On a clear day, you can see Mount Fuji and even Tokyo Skytree over 50 kilometers away.

Lines for the cable car can be long on weekends and during the autumn, so be sure to plan accordingly!
There are about 50 attractive ryokan (traditional Japanese inns) in the Mount Oyama area, all of which have official shrines. These inns were established to provide food and lodging for the pilgrims that have visited the mountain for centuries, particularly during the Edo period (1603-1867). Stop in for a meal or an overnight stay!

"Spinning tops are Mount Oyama's specialty," Kaji tells me as we watch a craftsman demonstrate how he makes his tops. For over 300 years, local artisans have been crafting tops of all colors and sizes. Why tops? "The word for 'spin' in Japanese is mawaru, which also means 'to follow,'" Kaji explains. "So these tops are charms that bring the promise that money and good luck will follow their owners throughout the year." Isehara City's official spinning-top-hatted mascot, Kururin is prominently featured on many local souvenirs including T-shirts, bells, buttons and candy.

Mount Oyama is famous for its tofu, which benefits from the mountain's pure and delicious water. Coming in a variety of forms in many different dishes, be sure to stop in at a ryokan for lunch or dinner to give it a try!

The air is fresh. The sky is blue. The water is pure and clear. Despite being a popular tourist spot, all is calm, peaceful and quiet. Let yourself be surprised by Kanagawa's spiritual mountain, a place at which to be refreshed and at one with nature.



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