The Kibune to Kurama hike is a great day trip close to central Kyoto. It is a thirty-minute ride on the Eizan Dentetsu train line from Demachiyagi Station to the closest station. The area moreover is not only beautiful but redolent with history.
It is in these mountains that the legendary (but quite real) two-meter tall Benkei is thought to have trained. Benkei (1155 - 1189) is best known for his prodigious feats at Kyoto's Gojo Bridge, just south of downtown. Here he fought and defeated 999 passing samurai, winning their swords.
In his 1000th duel, however, he was finally defeated by Minamoto no Yoshitsune, the son of warlord Minamoto no Yoshitomo. As a result of the defeat, Benkei became Yoshitune's retainer and joined him.
The town of Kurama is today famous for its onsen (hot spring) and its annual Fire Festival, held every year on October 22.
The hot spring is on your right and has a large sign in both Japanese and English. For adults the fee is 1,100 yen.
Getting to the Starting Point
From Demachiyanagi Station, ride the Eizan Railways train to Kurama Guchi Staion.
From there, it is a 15-20 minute walk to the village of Kibune.
If you get off the train at Kibune-guchi Station, you will need to walk about 20-minutes up a two-lane mountain road until you come to the village of Kibune. The walk is quiet and peaceful - except for passing cars that you are sharing the road with - as cedar trees loom over you on both sides. There is bus service from the station to near the village, but it runs infrequently.
In the town there are inns on both sides of the road. Kibune is well known for traditional inns that offer dining atop the decks that span a narrow river.
Kibune Shrine is on the left and up a lantern-lined stone path.
Now retrace your steps back to a small red bridge. It will be on your left (on your right as you entered the village). After crossing the bridge, there is a small hut where hikers are charged a 200 yen mountain climbing fee.
The first several hundred meters are steep. After perhaps twenty minutes you will come to the first shrine: Oku no In.
Just beyond this, the trail will come to an open area full of cedar roots - one of the highlights of the hike - protruding from the ground. After this, the walk becomes easier.
There are several more small shrines along the way. You will soon enough be heading down stone steps towards Reihoden, a museum that houses local flora and fauna, insects, etc. on its first floor. On the second floor, exhibits include aritfacts from nearby temples and shrines.The view from the open area in front of the building is beautiful.
It is a short descent to Kondo, the main hall. The views of the mountains in the distance are wonderful.
You are now approaching the village of Kurama. One of the highlights is Yuki Shrine, where the climax of the annual Kurama Fire Festival takes place on October 22.
From here it is a short walk down to Niomon, which is the "Gate of the Guardians" at the entrance to Kurama temple. Niomon is at the head of the trail from the Kurama side and the location of the cable car station. From here, the village of Kurama is a short distance and the terminus for the Eizan Line. You can ride this back to Demachiyanagi.
Directions for Cyclists
From Kitayama, follow route 40 until you come to route 38, which veers to the left. Take 38. Park near Kibuneguchi Station. On the way back, ride the train one stop from Kurama to Kibuneguchi.
Tags Japan Touring Kyoto Cycle Japanese