{travel} November ’16: Kurama Mountain and Kibune

Hello world! I haven’t posted anything in over two weeks, so sorry about that. Life got pretty busy with finals and essays – all I did for the past two-three weeks was pretty much just drink coffee, eat food, study. Lots of coffee. Lots of food. Not so much study. Buuuuut heeeey, I just finished my last final on Thursday, so now I’m a free woman. Yay.

…well, okay, I’m only free for, like, a week, because I’m going back to Germany on Sunday and start classes at my university in the Netherlands on Tuesday. But still, one week of a break is better than no break at all. Although I’m not sure whether this can be called a break at all since I already have to start preparing for my classes next week, pack all of my things (packed a sixth of my clothing and my suitcase is already half-full, oops, how did this happen), and clean my room. And do all of these annoying, administrative things like cancelling insurance tralalilalala. But I also have some fun, touristy stuff planned with my friends here, to balance all that responsible-serious-adulting(?) out. So yeah, it’s going to be a nice and productive last week in Japan.

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But enough babbling, today I actually wanted to continue catching up on all those blog posts and write about a little hiking adventure I embarked on with two friends in November: Mount Kurama, a beautiful mountain located in the north of Kyoto, between the two villages/towns of Kurama and Kibune. It only takes a 30-minute picturesque train ride from Demachiyanagi Station on the Eizan railway to get there. A few stops before the terminal station Kurama, between Ichihara Station and Ninose Station, the train passes through the Momiji Tunnel – Maple Leaf Tunnel. This is especially beautiful in fall (mid-late November) when all the Japanese maple trees have turned a bright red colour.

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Mount Kurama is known for the famous temple Kurama-dera, which is a national treasure of Japan and located at the top of the mountain. The temple was fairly easy to get to. First, we had to walk for a few minutes from the train station to the temple gate at the base of the mountain. There we had to buy an entrance ticket to the temple – 300 yen per person. And then we started walking up. If I remember correctly, it took us around an hour and a half to reach the top, including many stops to take photos of the beautiful fall foliage and nature.

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The weather was absolutely perfect as you can see, heh.

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So yes, the hike was pretty easy: not particularly steep, more like a gradual incline. I found it to be a lot easier than Daimonji actually, and would recommend it to anyone that is, like me, somewhat out of shape and a beginner at hiking.

At the top, we had an incredibly beautiful view of the surrounding mountains and nature. Kurama-dera itself was also very beautiful, and had a very relaxing and spiritual atmosphere. We were pleasantly surprised by the fact that there weren’t too many people at the top – a few couples here and there (because apparently Mount Kurama is a dating spot or something, ew, romance, gross), but no crazy big crowds that would have disturbed the calm and quiet surrounding the temple grounds. We walked and looked around, sat down for a bit to eat something, enjoyed the fresh air and warm sunshine, and then started to walk down the other side of the mountain in order to get to Kibune.

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Passed this on the way down. After some research, I found out that this part of the hike is apparently called Kinone Sando, meaning “Tree Root Pilgrim Path.”

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After an hour or so of walking downhill, we arrived in the village/town/whatever-it-is,-god,-confusing Kibune. Kibune is famous for Kibune Jinjya, a shrine dedicated to the god of water and rain. As a result, there was an abundance of water-themed goods to be found at the shrine. You could even get omikuji (fortune-telling paper strips) that would reveal their message only when dipped into water.

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Aside from that shrine, Kibune mainly consisted of restaurants and souvenir shops. There was also a little river (called Kibune River *most creative name ever*) flowing parallel to the main road of the town, over which, according to my extensive and elaborate research, platforms are built every summer where people can enjoy food and drinks, and cool down from the heat and humidity. Hopefully one day I will get to enjoy some traditional Kyoto cuisine on one of these river platforms, too.

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Prettiest tree

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We only walked around in Kibune for a little bit before deciding to head home. It took us about twenty minutes to get to Kibuneguchi Station, the second-to-last station on the Eizan railway. And from there it was only a twenty-five to thirty minute ride back to Demachiyanagi Station, where my friends and I parted ways and I went to get myself a nice, rewarding dinner after all that walking (in other words, ten pieces of inari sushi, heh, yes, I have a problem).

And that brings me to the end of this post. Hopefully this was somewhat entertaining/useful to at least one person out there. Again, if you’re ever in Kyoto, I can definitely recommend going to Mount Kurama. The hike is relatively easy, and the area is absolutely beautiful and not completely swarmed by tourists like some other attractions and sightseeing spots in Kyoto.

But anyway, that’s it, for now. Thank you for reading. And see you soon! BYE.

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