The Kominato Line is a 39.1 km stretch of rail line between Goi and Kazusa-Nakano in Chiba. It started operating as early as 1925. It runs southwards through inland areas, including mountains and valleys, in the the Boso Peninsula. The northern part of the line functions as an important part of the commuter train for those who travel to Tokyo.
The Kominato Line is identified by its orange-colored diesel-powered cars and humble and rustic stations, seven of which have remained unchanged since they were built in 1925. They create a sense of nostalgia.
The views from the train are breathtaking. They show different landscapes depending on the season. You can see bright cherry blossoms and vibrant canola fields in spring, lush green paddy fields in summer, multicolor foliage in autumn, and welcoming Christmas lights and decorations in winter.
No wonder the Kominato Line attracts many railway enthusiasts and tourists.
I visited the ruins of Kazusa-Kokubunniji, an ancient provincial Buddhist nunnery. It was built in accordance with a decree by Emperor Shomu in 741 A.D. It is said that the premises of this nunnery were the largest in Japan. The buildings burned to the ground. To this day, we don’t know what caused the fire. After they were excavated in the 20th Century, the gate and corridor leading to the main building were painstakingly reproduced. They used the same types of materials and tools that had been used when they were built.
I walked along the corridor and looked at details of the building. After that, I visited the exhibition hall. In the hall, I watched a video explaining the history of the nunnery. It was truly informative. The hall exhibits artifacts excavated from the site. They show how the buildings were built and what nuns’ daily lives were like. Notes and signatures on pottery are still legible because they were written in Indian ink, which was carbonized through fires. They provide important information about who owned the pottery and where it was used.
The curator’s explanations were very helpful, detailed, and inspirational in understanding the artifacts, those who lived there, and history of the nunnery.
In Kazusa-Kokubunji Central Park, there are replicas of clay figures excavated from an ancient burial mound built in the 6th century.
The burial mound does not exist any more, but you can find another one near it.
The Godo No. 5 Tumulus was built in the early 3rd Century. It is one of the oldest burial mounds in eastern Japan. The artifacts were excavated in the 20th Century for the first time. They included earthenware from the Kinki, Hokuriku, Tokai, and Kita-kanto areas. This means the local ruling family interacted with people in these regions.
It is interesting to visit historic sites and imagine how people lived in ancient times. I would like to visit I’Museum Center, which will open in Autumn 2022, to see ancient artifacts and relics found in Ichihara.
Around 741 A.D., about 60 Kokubunji Buddhist temples were built nationwide to pray for an end to the smallpox pandemic and natural disasters in accordance with an imperial decree by Emperor Shomu. Kazusa-Kokubunji Temple was one of those built at that time.
There used to be a seven-story pagoda here, which was built in the 8th century. It is estimated to have been as high as 63m. Now you can see its foundation stones on the ground.
The atmosphere was serene and peaceful. The big trees around the stones seemed as if they were watching the ancient ruins.
My second visit was on a day after it snowed. The site looked a little different blanketed with snow.
In the background is Yakushido Hall built in 1716. The roof looks new because it was recently rethatched.
The Hokyoin-to stone pagoda was built in 1372. It was relocated here from an ancient burial mound.
The Kazusa-Kokubunji Nio Gate was impressive. It was built in the mid-Edo period.
One of the two statues (except its head) was even older―dating back to the 14th century. The rest of the statue and the other statue were created in the Edo period.