It was a relaxing afternoon we had planned to spend doing some shopping in downtown Kyoto. But before that, we went to have coffee with Thomas and his team at the headquarters of Bento & co. On the way back, he asked us if we already knew Kurama. Never heard of it before, so Thomas advised us frankly to go check it out, especially since it was not very far from his headquarters.
We took a train from Demachiyanagi on a line called Eizan (just over 400¥ for a one-way ticket). The ride is stunning: the train passes through trees and mountains, in just a few minutes we are transported into the wild outside of Kyoto. The four seasons offer beautiful scenery and this half an hour route is undoubtedly part of the ride to Kurama.
I already knew Fushimi Inari and Arashiyama as superb outings in the suburbs of Kyoto, but I must always thank Thomas for this great discovery of Kurama.
Once at the station of Kurama, one is greeted by the caretaker of the premises, the spirit god "Tengu", and two or three discrete stores. The objective is this climbing trip to Kurama-dera, the Temple anchored in the mountains. It takes about one hour to get there. Hiking is a little bit physical but nothing to compare, obviously, with the ascent of Mount Fuji.
From the top, at Kurama Honden Temple, you can choose to take a beautiful and easy path through the forest, up until a small place called Kibune. Once at Kibune, there's a small shrine dedicated to single persons, waiting for a potential lover!
In summer, the visit is as pleasant as refreshing, except for mosquitos. But don't hesitate to go to Kurama the rest of the year to enjoy the snow in winter, sakura cherry blossoms in spring, or autumn red leaves. On october 22nd, there's a special festival called Kurama Hi Matsuri, which theme is fire-centered. But be warned: on this special day, the place gets really crowded!
How to get to Mount Kurama
By train -- Eizan Line from Demachiyanagi (30 minutes, ¥420 / ~US$ 3.80), several departures each hour
Location unreachable with the JR Pass
Get there with a rental car
- outdoor bath: ¥1,000 / ~US$ 9.00 (adults), ¥700 / ~US$ 6.30 (children 4 to 12 years old)
- 1-day pass: ¥2,500 / ~US$ 22.50 (adults), ¥1,600 / ~US$ 14.40 (children)
- Towel rental: ¥400 / ~US$ 3.60
Kurama-onsen: open daily from 10am to 9pm (until 8pm from December 15 to March 31)
How long / when to visit
Allow half a day for the ride, or even a full day continuing to Kibune