In the north of Kyoto is some of Japan's premier urban/rural hiking.
From Demachiyanagi Station, in Kyoto, it is but a thirty-minute ride on the Eizan Dentetsu train line to some great hiking. The hike begins in Kibune and ends in Kurama.
From Kibune-guchi Station, it is 20 minutes up a two-lane mountain road to the village of Kibune. The walk is mostly quiet and peaceful as cedar trees tower over you on both sides. There is bus service from the station to the village, but it is quite infrequent.
In the town there are inns on both sides of the road. In summer, these inns put out decks over a narrow river. This is the height of summer luxury: drinking and dining as the waters rush beneath you.
Kibune Shrine is on the left side and up a stone path.
The entrance to the hike up and over a hill to Kurama is close to a red bridge you passed earlier. There is a 200 yen mountain climbing fee.
The first 20 minutes or so are a bit hard going. When things flatten out, there is an open area full of cedar roots.
In these mountains the two-meter tall Benkei is believed to have trained. Benkei (1155 - 1189) is a warrior famed for his exploits at Kyoto's Gojo Bridge, just south of downtown. He fought and defeated 999 passing samurai here, claiming their swords.
In the 1000th duel, however, he was defeated by Minamoto no Yoshitsune, the son of a famous warlord. Benkei then became Yoshitune's retainer and fought together with him.
Along the way to Kurama is a small museum, more natural beauty, and temples.
Once down and in the village of Kurama, it is time for a hot spring.
Kurama Onsen Details
Hours: 10 am - 9 pm. Fees: 1,100 yen for adults. 700 yen for chlildren aged 4 - 12. Telephone: 075 741 2131
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Thursday, June 16, 2011