The Kurama/Kibune area has become a popular destination for visitors to Kyoto.
Set in the northern mountains, less than 1-... more »hour from the city centre, this little rural village has a lot to offer for those wanting to discover & experience most aspects that make-up Japan's scenery, history and tradition.
As you board the "Eizan" train at Demachiyagi station, you will be taken through the northern suburbs of Kyoto, and, before long, you will enter the forests and mountains of Kurama ( the area is home to some giant Cedar, Maple and Wisteria trees ).The scenery here is very beautiful, regardless of what time of year you visit but, if your visit is during the winter months, I need to warn you about the snow, especially on the trail and on the summit of Mt Kurama.
The history of the Kurama area dates-back to when the Kurama Temple was founded in 770, by a Monk from Nara's Toushoudai-ji, who was led to an area below the summit by a white horse.After seeing a vision of the deity Bishamon-ten, guardian of the northern quarter of the Buddhist heaven, he established Kurama-dera on that site. The original buildings, however, have been repeatedly destroyed by fire, and the Main Hall was last rebuilt in 1971. There are many festivals held in the area throughout the year, at Yuki-Jinja for example, you can experience "Kurama Hi Matsuri" (Fire Festival), held annually on October 22nd.
Traditionally, at the end of a days hiking, the Japanese like to soak-away their aches-&-pains with a visit to an "Onsen" (Natural Hot Spring) or "Ryokan" (Japanese style Inn).Located at the upper-end of Kurama (turn left at the "Sanmon Gate"), is the "Kurama Onsen". The onsen is part of the Ryoken, and, for 2,500-yen per-person, you have full access to all the facilities the Inn has to offer. But, for 1,100-yen per-person, you may just use the outdoor pool.From here it is a 10-minute walk back to the Kurama Station.
Most guides will have you commencing your hike at Kurama station, and, after your ascent of Kurama-yama, will descend into Kibune, finishing at the Kibune-guchi station. If you are not interested in the onsen, or just want to visit the area around Kurama, alight/catch the train at Kurama station.This hike/guide is in reverse, as you may want to soak-away those aches-&-pains, after your days hike in the Kurama onsen.I can guarantee this will be a fitting finale to your day.
After alighting your train at Kibuni-guchi station,you have a 2km walk through the forest to Kibune. Before you commence your ascent to Kurama-yama,visit the Kibune-jinja (open from 6am to 8pm, with free admittance)and take-in the many restaurants with "Yuka" (dining platforms) over the Kibune-gawa.After crossing the picturesque bridge, you begin your ascent. The trail can be steep and narrow in places, so please be careful, especially in winter.Watch-out for the many twisted branches of the ancient Fuji trees.As you pass-along the plateau, you will experience some sub-temples and spring-water outlets along the way. Also in the area is the "Kinone-sandou", a clearing covered with the tangled, exposed roots of old Sugi trees.Soon you will reach Kurama-dera (open from 9am to 5pm, June to August, and from 9am to 4pm, September to May. Admittance is 200-yen, plus another 200-yen to enter the Reisho-den).Your descent from here will take you past Yuki-jinja (mentioned earlier) onto the "Sanmon Gate". Turn left here to go to the Kurama onsen, or right, via the souvenir shops, to the Kurama Station. Don't forget to have your photo taken with the "Tengu" at the station. less «