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A Mountain of Ancient Worship

Temples Shrines Mountains Japanese Countryside Temples & Shrines Great Outdoors Solo Travel Greater Tokyo Kanagawa

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," 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 (31 miles) away.

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