Kurama excursion 鞍馬
Kurama: walks and hikes near Kyoto
"Washed again in Kurama, we had ascended to the sky without uttering a word, our hands knotted, riveted to the immense trees, drunk with azure and light. "
OlivierAdam in KyotoLimited Express .
Kurama is a small mountain north of Kyoto, which, thanks to its pleasant hiking trail in the forest, is a great excursion during a stay in Kyoto.
Away from the metropolis, traditional houses of residential districts follow one another... The landscape gets greener and greener, the suburbs scroll along the Eizan line which leads to Kurama, north of Kyoto. This small village owes its name to Mount Kuramayama, whose summit rises to 542 meters, and which offers some temples and a pleasant hiking trail. Kurama is a very popular day trip from Kyoto, for a refreshing break in the middle of nature.
Atop the mountain, visit the Kurama-dera, a temple built in 770, formerly owned by Buddhists, Tendai school became independent in the twentieth century under the wing of the Kurama Kyo school. The temple has seen many fires during its history, but its statues and other goods were saved and preserved and have become national treasures, recognized by the state. The temple can be visited for 300 yen entry (around $2.75/2.25€).
How to get from Kyoto to Kurama?
To access Kurama village from central Kyoto, you will need to take a unique little train on the Eizan Kurama line. The Eizan line splits into two branches at Takaragaike station, so be careful to take a train to Kurama. From Demachiyanagi Station, the trip takes 30 min and costs 430 yen (around $3.75/3.25€).
- Read also: Guide to public transport in Kyoto
Get off at the last stop, at Kurama station. Just out of the station, a huge Tengû, (sky dog) the famous god with a long nose, will welcome you. The Tengu are often considered benevolent kami (Shinto deities).
Hike to the top of Mount Kurama
The steep path is outlined as the small ascent to the mountain begins... If you prefer to keep your strength, you can take a cable car that almost goes to the top for 200 yen, but the hike is not demanding and yet so pretty. It begins quickly, its beginning is marked by the magnificent Niomon gate, then by a small Shinto shrine, the Yuki-jinja, and its huge cedar.
The ascent to the summit will be done along paths punctuated by stairs, bridges, lanterns, streams, all between the trees ... After a little less than an hour, you will finally discover the honden, pavilion main building of the Kurama-dera complex. You can then choose to continue walking ever higher, in the middle of gigantic pines and small streams, along a path that leads to the small Yoshitsune Sekurabe-ishi shrine. It is in its surroundings that you can stroll between the visible roots of cedars, a phenomenon called Kinone Michi. They belong among others to Osugi-gongen, a very old and famous cedar. It is said that the samurai of the region came to train here...
Once there, the excursion can be further extended to the hamlet of Kibune and its Kibune-jinja sanctuary for about 30 min hike, on the other side.
- Read also: Top 5 hikes to do in Japan
Enjoy the Kurama onsen
But nothing prevents planning a descent once the summit of Kuramayama has been reached, to recharge your batteries at the magnificent Kurama onsen, a very well-kept hot spring which also served as a ryokan, less than ten min walk from the station along the main street from Kurama.
You can enjoy the hot springs in an outdoor bath, with a splendid view of the surrounding hills.
The entrance to the outdoor bath costs 1000 yen ($8.75/7.50€) per person. Towel rental is possible for 400 yen ($3.50/3€) - change will come in handy for the 100 yen coin for lockers.
- Read also: 5 onsens with view
The Kurama Festival
And if by luck you discover the region in the fall, around the end of October, don't miss the spectacular and warming Kurama-no-hi Matsuri for nothing, a very impressive festival during which gigantic fires are lit all over the city and where men carrying torches also parade around the Yukijinja shrine.
Address, timetable & access
Timetablefrom Kyoto Demachiyanagi, take the Eiden Eizan line to the Auterminus, Kurama. The trip costs 410 yen.
Priceentrance fee 200 yen
Accessopen every day from 9 am to 4:30 pm