Many tourists visit Japan’s old capital, Kyoto but not so many of them go to Kibune and Kurama. Simply because there are various tourist spots to visit in the city center. Kurama and Kibune are about a 30-minute train ride from the city center. I highly recommend those two places to tourists who want to avoid the hustle and bustle of Kyoto’s city center.
Kurama Temple and hot spring
To get to Kurama, you need to take Eizan line from Keihan Demachiyanagi Station. It costs 430 JPY to Kurama station. It takes about 30 minutes. Kurama temple is located very close to the station. You can truely enjoy the beautiful nature when visiting this temple.
The entrance fee is 300 JPY. Inside its grounds, there is a shrine called Yuki shrine. It’s famous for the fire festival on October, 22nd. Inside Yuki shrine, there is a big magestic sacred tree.
On the hiking path from Kurama to Kibune, there is an amazing spot where the tree roots are above the ground. It’s a must see place.
The hiking path is not so long or not too steep. However, you need to wear comfortable clothes and a pair of nice sneakers. It takes about an hour and half to get there on foot. If you are a slow walker, it should take a maximum of about two hours to arrive there.
Mt. Kurama is famous for Yoshitsune Minamoto’s legend.
“Miyamoto no Yoshitsune (源 義経, c.1159-June 15, 1189) was a military commander of the Miyamoto clan of Japan in the Heian and early Kamakura periods.”
When Yoshitsune was young, he was sent to Kurama temple. People said that he learned how to fight from the legendary creature, Tengu. He fought for his half-brother, Yoritomo Miyamoto. However, his half-brother Yoritomo hunted down Yoshitsune and ended up killing Yoshitsune, which made Yoshitsune a historical tragic hero.
There is also a famous outside bath in Kurama. After hiking from Kurama to Kibune, this hot spring is a very nice touch.
The name of the area is Ki“bu”ne. The name of the shrine is Ki“fu”ne.
The deity of Kifune shrine is a god of water. That’s why people don’t like a muddy sound “bu” . Instead, they started to call the shrine “Kifune” with the clear sound “fu”.
Kifune shrine has two shrines : main shrine and rear shrine. Another one is called Yui no yashiro. Yui no yashiro enshrines a different deity from the main shrine and the rear shrine.
Most of tourists go to the main shrine. The picturesque path leads them to the main one. You can try Mizuura (水占), which is a fortune teller by water. It costs 200 JPY. You choose a piece of blank paper and float it on the water. Words slowly apper on it. They have a translation QR code there and you can get to know what your fortune is.
In summer from May to September, you can try Kawadoko(川床) at fancy restaurants in Kubune. Kawadoko is a riverside restaurant and you can enjoy a full course meal of Kyo Kaiseki cuisine on Tatami floor.
The average price of Kyo kaiseki is 5,000 JPY or more for lunch, and 10,000 JPY or more for dinner. It’s better for you to make a reservation for Kyo Kaiseki cuisine.
If you are looking for a reasonable meal in Kibune , Nagashi soumen is a good deal. Nagashi soumen is a seasonale food, so it’s only available in summer.
There are some Japanese traditional inns, called Ryokan. If you are interested in them, I recommend making a reservation and staying over one night there.
Hiking from Kibune to Kurama or Kurama to Kibune?
Kibune to Kurama
This route is for someone who wants go to Kurama hot spring.
- Kibuneguchi station→(a 30-minute walk / a 10-15 minute bus ride) → Kibune bus stop
- Kibune bus stop → (a 5-minute walk) → Kifune shrine
- Kifune shrine →(one-and-half-hour hiking) → Kurama temple
- Kurama temple → (3-minute bus ride) → Kurama hot spring
There are three positives about hiking from Kibune to Kurama.
- After hiking, you can refresh yourself in the hot spring.
- There are two to three reasonable restaurants in front of Kurama temple.
- You are most likely to have seats on the train back to the city center of Kyoto ,because Kurama station is the first stop.
There are two negatives about hiking from Kibune to Kurama.
- The starting point of the hike is the west gate of Kurama temple but it’s pretty small and easy to miss.
- The first 15-minute walk could be boring and not so fun. There is nothing much to see and the hill is quite steep.
Kurama to Kibune
This route is more for someone who doesn’t need to go to Kurama hot spring.
- Kurama statinon →(5-minute walk)→ Kurama temple main gate
- Kurama temple → (one-and-half-hour hiking) →Kibune
- Kifune shrine → (5-minute walk) → Kibune bus stop
- Kibune bus stop → (a 30-minute walk / a 10-15 minute bus ride) → Kibuneguchi station
There are three advantages of hiking from Kurama to Kibune.
- There are many highlights like, big Tengu statue at Kurama station, the magnificent Niomon gate, Yuki Shrine and the main hall, etc…
- You can go down the hill, not up the hill , and it saves your energy.
- Kibune has more fancy restaurants than the ones in Kurama.
There are two disadvantages of hiking from Kurama to Kibune.
- You should start hiking early so that you don’t miss the final bus (around 16:00) to get to Kibune station.
- It’s kind of a hassle to go back to Kurama to bathe in a hot spring.
Soba noodle at Kotengu
If you are looking for a reasonable meal, I recommend eating at this restaurant. The old house was renovated into the small cozy restaurant. It has only 5 tables ,so there will be a little waiting time at lunch hour. Soba noodle is healthy and tasty, and the price is reasonable as well.
Kibune and Kurama Map, and Kyoto map
Please click here to get Kufune and Kurama Map. (Japanese only but the illustration is cute. Please take a look at it even though you don’t read Japanese. You’ll get a complete picture of Kurama and Kufune by looking at this map.)
Please click here to get a Kyoto map. “KYOTO MAP FOR TOURIST” is the best map, which you can get at the tourist information center at the west gate of Kyoto station. (Japanese and English)