Kurama

At this writing it’s been about 2 weeks since I visited Kurama  It’s a small town with one main street, about 30 minutes north of Kyoto by train.  This was my third or fourth trip to Kurama over the past eight or nine years.  Kurama’s quiet and relaxing, with some stunning scenery.  Photos — and one short vid — follow, along with how to get there and some history and other items of interest.  Unless otherwise noted, all photos were taken with my Droid phone on August 13, 2011.

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Getting from Kyoto to Kurama (details at the very end)  .  .  .

Eizan Line ticket machines at Kyoto's Demachiyanagi Station.

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The little 2-car "One Man" Eizan train pulls into Demachiyanagi.

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The trip from Demachiyanagi to Kurama takes just a little more than 30 minutes.  Once getting out of the suburby scenes of northern Kyoto, these are the kinds of views you can see.  .  .

From the train, on the way to Kurama.

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Entering the southern outskirts of Kurama.

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Many people de-train at the second-to-last stop, Kibune, and take the hour hike along a beautiful trail into Kurama, winding up just behind Kurama Temple (see below).   There are several high-end, traditional inns (“ryokan”) in Kibune, though I’ve not had the pleasure, yet.  If you go straight into Kurama here is some of what you’ll see when you get into the Kurama Station.  .  .

The most boring pic I've ever posted. Ticket taker at Kurama Station.

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Inside Kurama Station. You can see the train, far right.

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The big Tengu (goblin) mask. Just outside Kurama Station.

Along with being a pretty town and cool mountain getaway from Kyoto’s sweltering summer heat, Kurama’s noted for several other things.  Tengu, or Mountain Goblins, are one of them.  Quoting from the link provided in the preceding sentence:

Tengu 天狗 are mountain and forest goblins with both Shinto and Buddhist attributes.  Their supernatural powers include shape-shifting into human or animal forms, the ability to speak to humans without moving their mouth, the magic of moving instantly from place to place without using their wings, and the sorcery to appear uninvited in the dreams of the living.  .  .  In paintings and woodblock prints, the boar often appears as the steed of the tengu or of their king, Sōjōbō 僧正坊.  Sōjōbō is closely linked to famed warrior Minamoto no Yoshitsune 源義経 (1159-1189), one of Japan’s most revered samurai. In a well-known legend, Yoshitsune lived among the tengu in his youth and received training in the arts of war from Sōjōbō himself.

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Sōjōbō,’s home?  Mount Kurama into which the town of Kurama is nestled.  The visitor, turning left when exiting the train station parking lot, needs only two or three minutes to walk past the souvenir stalls and stores (or not, as one pleases) and to the foot of Mount Kurama and the entrance to another Kurama claim to fame, Kurama Temple .  .  .

Sweet treats at a shop along the road to Kurama Temple.

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Souvenir stand, featuring mountain vegetables. Kurama.

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The foot of Mount Kurama and entrance to Kurama Temple.

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Kurama Temple's Main Gate. The temple was founded in 796.

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Kurama Temple’s main buildings can be reached in a 30-45 minute climb up the mountain.  Or, half-way up, you can take a cable car the rest of the way (for ¥200).   Every year Kurama’s most celebrated event takes place at the nearby at Yuki-Jinja (Shinto Shrine), the October 22 Fire Festival, held rain or (moon) shine, which I have yet to attend.  It’s on my list.  Returning to Kurama Temple, the legend of its founding goes like this, from a placard just outside the Main Gate:

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My favorite Kurama activity is just walking from the Temple up the main (and only) road through town to Kurama Onsen (hot springs & inn).  The road slopes gently upward and parallels the small, pretty Kurama River (which, by U.S. standards, would be called a creek, or stream or run).  I always take a little trail from the road, behind a couple of houses and walk along the river, too.  It’s one of my favorite peaceful and contemplative places in Japan.  .  .

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Looking north, up the road towards Kurama Onsen.

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A couple relaxes at a teahouse along the road. Kurama.

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Relaxing with a book. Along the main road. Kurama.

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Entrance (genkan). Along the road. Kurama.

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Bridge over the Kurama River. Just off and beside the road.

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Someone, not me, made this little makeshift shrine. Kurama River.

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Looking back south towards town, along the Kurama River.

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Kurama Onsen (hot springs) & inn).

Here’s what you see when you approach Kurama Onsen.  .  .

Entrance to Kurama Onsen.

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In front of Kurama Onsen. Sign for inn, Miyamasou, just up the road.

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Tea (and Beer) House over the Kurama River. Kurama Onsen.

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Taking a smoke break. Kurama Onsen.

The inn’s interior, lobby, is a bit shabby and touristy.  But the outside baths are beautiful and the view of Kurama Mountain looming overhead is a Lifetime Thing to Enjoy & Behold.  All the rooms are Japanese-style, with tatami mats and very little furniture.  One night plus a traditional Japanese dinner and breakfast the next morning will set a couple back about $200.  There’s an inside bath facility (Men’s & Women’s separate) that are nice, but nothing overly special.  A trip there costs about $30, whereas a ticket to the outside baths-only (with that beautiful view) are only ¥1,000, about $13 these days.

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On the way back down to town from Kurama Onsen.

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Sign (Kuramayama). On the way back to town.

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Just south of town, looking down the Kurama River.

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Restaurant, "Kuramasou," along the river, near the train station.

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A cold beer on a hot day, Kuramasou restaurant.

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Getting to Kurama:

From Kyoto, take the Keihan (train) Line to Demachiyangi Station (the last Kyoto station on the Keihan Line).  Follow the signs to the exit for Demachiyanagi Eizan Railway Station (connected to the Keihan Station).  Buy your ticket at the ticket machine (see very first photo above) for Kurama (¥410), or to Kibune-guchi, if you want to take the hiking trail into Kurama). 

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Two more, from Autumn 2003 . . .

Ladder against house. Kurama. 2003.

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Mist in Kurama. October 2003.

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Along the Kurama River.  August 13, 2011.

    • Mark Brafford
    • August 27th, 2011

    I’m sold, I will go in the fall, or tomorrow, but rain is expected, so likely the fall.

      • letsjapan
      • August 27th, 2011

      Glad to here that, Mark. You’ll enjoy it.

      R.

    • Tim Cook
    • August 28th, 2011

    You and I share lots of things in common, not least of which is that we’re both smitten, not by a girl (although she smote me too), but by a whole country. It comes out in everything you write about the place, every picture you take of it, and the sort of low-grade sickness when you’re away.

      • letsjapan
      • August 28th, 2011

      Thanks, Tim. You’ve got me pegged.

      Of course I’ve got, I’ve had, my complaints, too. But I take solace in the fact that if I only saw The Idealized Good, that would make me a naive schmuck. Which I am. But not regarding Japan. Regarding other things (people, etc.).

      All kind things. And がんばろう!

      R.

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