After seeing so many temples and shrines, it was time for something different. Even though I love the city and consider myself a big-city girl, I love to escape the hustle and bustle and enjoy nature from time to time. I read about the Kibune-Kurama trail just north of Kyoto and wanted to check it out.
The trail doesn’t have a specific start or end point. You can start in Kibune or Kurama. We started in Kibune, because there is a beautiful onsen in Kurama where you can rest while your muscles can soak in hot-spring water. However, we ended up not having enough time to go to the onsen 😦
After getting off the train, you have to walk about 20-30 minutes to the small town of Kibune before starting the hike. You can also take a bus which takes less than 10 minutes and costs 160 yen. It’s a nice walk, although you have to walk on a busy road with lots of cars passing by.
Before starting the hike, I wanted to visit one last shrine 😉 The literal translation for Kibune is yellow boat and, according to a legend, a goddess traveled from Osaka with a yellow boat to the spot where the Kibune shrine now stands. The shrine is dedicated to the god of water and rain and is believed to be the protector of those at sea.
I got a special kind of omikuji at this shrine. When buying the omikuji for 200 yen, you can’t read anything on the paper. To see the kanji, you must dip the paper into water. I got a relatively good fortune this time. I guess praying to the gods last time helped a little, but for a great fortune I think I’ll have to pray a little harder 😉
The hiking trail starts just across the river from the entrance of Kibune shrine. Before starting the trail, you have to pay an entrance fee of 300 yen. The trail starts very steep and continues to be steep for about 30 minutes. We thought our hike to the monkey park was difficult haha, but we were sweating so badly after only 5 minutes of climbing up. We really thought the climb would never stop! There were so many people doing the hike which made it more tiring since you can’t pass everyone because of the narrow trail.
In the end, we really enjoyed the hike though and loved the scenery. The hike felt very rewarding. During the hike up, you pass a few small temples and are surrounded by roots of old trees.
At the end of the uphill hike from Kibune is the Kurama-dera temple. It seems to be a very popular temple, as there was a huge line to take a moment and pray.
From here, the hike was downhill. We were very thankful for this haha! When you start form Kurama, you still have to hike uphill for about the same amount of time when you start from Kibune.
We were so happy to make the end of the trail! It took us about 1 hour and 15 minutes to complete. The climb itself was about 40 minutes. Doesn’t sound long, but it felt so much longer than that.
We came across this huge bright red statue with a very long nose. We’ve seen more of these, but since I can’t read any kanji I couldn’t understand what this statue symbolized. I found out that it is a Tengu. Wikipedia says the following about the Tengu:
“Tengu (天狗?, “heavenly dog”) are a type of legendary creature found in Japanese folk religion and are also considered a type of Shinto god (kami) or yokai (supernatural beings). Although they take their name from a dog-like Chinese demon (Tiangou), the tengu were originally thought to take the forms of birds of prey, and they are traditionally depicted with both human and avian characteristics. The earliest tengu were pictured with beaks, but this feature has often been humanized as an unnaturally long nose, which today is widely considered the tengu’s defining characteristic in the popular imagination.
Buddhism long held that the tengu were disruptive demons and harbingers of war. Their image gradually softened, however, into one of protective, if still dangerous, spirits of the mountains and forests.”
Our Kyoto experience ends here. For us, 4 days was the perfect amount of time to enjoy Kyoto. We are traveling to Osaka after this, from where we will visit Hiroshima and Nara and of course Osaka as well. We still have 4 full days left until we fly back home. I can’t believe time has flown by so fast!