Ascending the sacred mountains of Kibune and Kurama
Resting in a basin and surrounded by mountains on all three sides, Kyoto is blessed with beautiful scenery. Thankfully, many of these mountains are easily accessible, giving the visitor a number of options for walks and nature exploration. The Kibune and Kurama areas in the north are particular favourites of Kyoto residents and have been loved since ancient times for their majestic natural beauty. From long ago, people have believed that Shinto and Buddhist deities dwell in the mountains, forests and clear streams there. With this in mind, a journey into this sacred tranquillity will surely invigorate your spirits.
- 01 Kirara - A Panoramic Train Ride
- 02 Kifune Shrine
- 03 Torii-jyaya
- 04 Mt. Kurama and Kurama-dera Temple
- 05 Hot spring 'Kurama onsen'
From Kyoto station:take the JR Nara line to Tofukuji station and change the Keihan Main line to Demachiyanagi station (20 minutes total)
01Kirara - A Panoramic Train Ride
The starting point for trains bound for Kibune and Kurama is the Eizan Railway at Demachiyanagi station. From here it takes approximately 30 minutes to Kibune. If you are looking for the ultimate scenic experience, take the special observation train ‘Kirara’ which runs every 40 minutes. Its large glass windows offer gorgeous panoramic views of the surrounding countryside scenery, as well as the forested mountains and valley streams. The section between Ichihara and Ninose stations is a beautiful 250-meter long ‘Maple Leaf’ tunnel, which comes alive with colour during Kyoto’s autumn. For more information check the train details and timetable below.
Take the Eizan Kurama line to Kibuneguchi station from Demachiyanagi station (27 minutes). A 30- minute walk from the station to Kifune shrine (or a 5-minute ride on the Kyoto bus + 5-minute walk)
The Kibune area is the source of the Kamo River which flows from the north to the south of Kyoto city. Surrounded by mountains and clear streams, Kibune is a popular escape from Kyoto’s summer heat. Kifune Shrine sits at the top of a well-worn stone staircase lined with distinctive vermillion wooden lanterns. Along with the surrounding lush greenery, the area evokes a mystical charm. The shrine is dedicated to the god of water and rain, which is believed to protect the area. With the popular audio guide app 'ON THE TRIP', you can learn more of these secret stories as well as the shrine's history and religion (360 yen).
Address: 180 Kurama-kibune-cho, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto
Open: 6:00 a.m. - 8:00 p.m. (till 6:00 p.m. during 1 December - 30 April),Shrine office 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
This restaurant is conveniently located in front of Kifune Shrine, where you can enjoy a variety of dishes, from casual soba noodles to kaiseki (multi course) cuisine. Torii-jyaya is known for its popular ayu-chazuke dish, a mixture of rice in tea broth served with sweetfish from Lake Biwa, and cooked in sansho pepper. Yudofu (boiled tofu) is a popular Kyoto autumn dish, which you can try here as the yudofu bento (3,600 yen plus tax). They also serve Kyoto craft beer.
* From 8 June to 8 September, raised tatami platforms above the river known as kawadoko are set up at a downstream annex, allowing you to dine in the open air.
Address: 49 Kurama-kibune-cho, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto
Open: 11:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m. (last orders at 5:00 p.m.) *Winter 11:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Closed: Tuesday (open on public holidays) and irregularly *Open every day in June, July, August and November
Phone: 075- 741-2231
A 90-120-minute walk
04Mt. Kurama and Kurama-dera Temple
After lunch, make your way from Kibune to Kurama-dera Temple on Mt. Kurama with a history of over 1,200 years, a scenic walk that takes about an hour and a half to complete. On the way, you will find the Kinonne-no-michi or 'Path of the tree roots'. This sacred trail is covered with large Japanese cedars and their exposed roots, which protrude out of the ground due to the area’s incredibly hard soil. After reaching the main hall of the temple, take a deep breath as you take in the awe-inspiring mountain scenery that lies in front of you.
Address: 1074 Kurama-honmachi, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto
Open: 9:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
Admission Fee: 300 yen
05Hot spring 'Kurama onsen'
After a long day of exploring Kibune and Mount Kurama, why not unwind at Kurama hot spring. Located a short walk from the Kurama-dera Temple entrance, its open-air bath offers a fantastic view of the surrounding mountain landscape. The hot spring’s water is rich in minerals and is said to have many therapeutic effects, helping to soothe ailments such as back pain, arthritis, and nerve pain. They also serve a light course meal of kamameshi, a dish prepared in an iron pot that combines chicken, edible wild plants and rice, served with a small hot pot (available at an extra cost).
Address: 520 Kurama-honmachi, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto
Open: 10:30 a.m. - 8:20 p.m. (last entry) *last entry in winter at 7:20 p.m.
Fee: adults 2,500 yen, children (age 4-12) 1,600 yen *including bath tax *4,800 yen with meals
Open all year round