Mt. Kurama 鞍馬山

Few visitors to Kyoto ever experience the lush natural scenery just beyond the hills surrounding the city. Few residents ever make the trek for that matter, either. Hiking possibilities are numerous and some include routes that run by historic temples hidden away in ancient forests.

The hike up and over Kurama includes everything your adventurous day-tripper could want: majestic nature, history, impressive architecture, a somewhat rugged trail through the hills, and gastronomic rewards on the other side.

Many consider Kurama Temple the crown jewel of the journey. It is designated a “national treasure” of Japan and is located roughly halfway up the mountain. Even taking the ropeway located near the terminal Kurama Station, you’ll have to climb more than a few stone stairs. Founded in 770 (though rebuilt as recently as 1971), the temple is associated with literature, Buddhist art, and martial arts (of the yamabushi) that flourished there. Need some more energy after the climb? Stand in the “power spot” in front of the main hall. Mt. Kurama is also known as the birthplace of Reiki, a spiritual practice begun in 1922 by Mikao Usui.

Climb higher through the woods and you will eventually reach Oku-no-in Mao-den (“Inner Sanctuary of the Great King of the Conquerors of Evil and the Spirit of the Earth”), behind which a great cedar tree stands. It is said to house the spirit of this great king.

Take the steep descent down the other side of the mountain and you arrive in Kibune, a lovely little village with a large creek running through it. An array of traditional restaurants and cafes perch on the waterside. You’ll probably have an appetite after the long hike, and you won’t likely be disappointed with the selection. The village’s historical highlight is the ancient Kibune Shrine, whose origins remain murky. You’ll recognize the scenic approach by the orange lanterns.

Spring is a pleasant time to make the hike. Summers in Kyoto can be unbearably muggy, but at least the elevation and greenery will offer some respite from the heat. Autumn is also highly recommended, as Kibune has an illumination festival, while the Mount Kurama Fire Festival is held every October. In part of winter, snows close the train line that runs there.







Share and Enjoy:     These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • Reddit
  • Google Bookmarks
  • Facebook
  • MySpace
  • Propeller
  • Technorati
  • TwitThis

Comments are closed.