The villages Kurama and Kibune (also called Kifune) in the mountainous area just north of Kyoto offer a perfect opportunity for a (half) day trip for those in need of a fix of nature after having traveled around Kyoto’s historical central area. If you would like a bit more than a few hours of peace, tranquility, and forest bathing, you can easily turn your day trip into an overnight stay in a picturesque accommodation with a nice hot spring bath. Keep reading for more about the gorgeous area with itinerary ideas for a hike from Kurama to Kibune!
Tengu and the Legend of Mt Kurama
First, a little more about an interesting folk story that is inextricably connected to the area.
Have you ever heard about the Tengu? He is a mythical figure in Japanese folklore who you can recognize by his goblin-like exterior with a very long nose. Tengu are said to have lived in the forestry area around Mt Kurama, and they allegedly taught some of Japan’s old warriors exceptional fighting techniques that helped them defeat their enemies. Tengu can, however, be quite wishy-washy, and instead of helping they can also thwart human beings. This unpredictable character is represented in the fortunes that you can draw from the Yuki shrine Tengu, as your fortune might be in your favor or against you (no worries, if you tie up your bad fortune slip in the designated area, it won’t come home with you). There are several Tengu statues in the area, with the most famous one near Kurama station. Make sure to take a picture of this interesting-looking statue when you pass by, as it is one of the famous symbols of the area!
Itinerary in Kurama and Kibune
So what should you see and what’s the best way to walk between Kurama and Kibune?
There are 2 popular routes that lead past most of the highlights of the area.
The easiest and shortest trek starts at Kurama station and ends at Kibuneguchi station. This trail that connects the Kurama temple with the Kifune shrine is 3.9 kilometers long and is classified as ‘easy’. Depending on your tempo, it will take 2 to 3 hours to walk the full trail. Starting at the Kurama temple, you will see the earlier-mentioned statue of the Tengu. Walking past the statue and up the stairs, the main path is very easy to follow.
Once you see a very large sugi tree, you know you have arrived at the Yuki shrine.
After passing through a wooden gate, you will follow a beautiful stairway lined with lanterns to the main part of the Kurama temple.
You will then go back down through the forest on the other side of the temple grounds via the Kinone Sando. Once you hit the bridge and cross the river, you go to the right to walk through Kibune village where you will quite easily find the lantern-lined steps to the Kifune shrine.
Kifune Shrine enshrines the deity of water, and it’s famous for the unique omikuji, fortune slips. Here, you can buy your blank omikuji and the result will appear when you put the slip on the surface of the sacred water streaming down from the mountain.
And when it gets dry, the result will disappear again.
After enjoying the shrine, you can continue on the main street downstream to Kibuneguchi Station.
The second trek is for those who want to make their hike a bit longer and add a hot spring visit at the end of their walk. In this case, you will do the trail the other way around, start at Kibuneguchi Station and add the Kifune Shrine Okumiya to your route. Once you hit Kurama town, you can take a left and go to the Kurama Hot Spring to have a nice soak to relax your worked-out muscles. The total length of this trek is 7 kilometers.
Kawadoko Riverside Dining
Another experience that cannot be missed when you are in Kibune during the warmer months is riverside dining in Kawadoko style. If you are in the area between May and September and walk past the riverside, you will see many specially set up wooden platforms right next to the river. These are made to enjoy kawadoko riverside dining, which is especially enjoyable on the balmy evenings of late spring and summer when the cooling effect of the nearby river and the sound of streaming water is especially welcome. The views are phenomenal and the food is traditional and delectable. There are numerous restaurants that offer kawadoko-style dining, and Kibunesou is one of the most popular restaurants to enjoy this quintessential Kyoto-style riverside dinner.
How to Get to Kurama and Kibune
If you come from outside of Kyoto, you have to go to Kyoto Station first. From there, you can walk 1 kilometer to Shichijo Station, then take the Keihan Main Line to Demachiyanagi Station and switch to the Eizan Main Line in the direction of Kurama. You can get off at either Kurama Station or Kibuneguchi Station. From Kyoto station, it takes a little over one hour to get there.
And if you want to make things really easy for yourself, why not book our private Kurama & Kibune trekking tour? Your guide will not only pick you up at Kyoto Station or your Kyoto hotel and lead the way, and they will also tell you many interesting stories about this area full of history.
Where to Stay in Kurama
Do you want to turn it into an overnight stay in the mountains? Seryoan (芹生庵) is a gorgeous villa in the middle of the forest where you can enjoy comfortable traditional rooms and warm hospitality. You can cook or bring your own food, and there is a barbeque and pizza oven in the beautiful garden. There is also a large stone bath from where you can enjoy a view of the garden. Please note that you have to hike 4.5 kilometers to get here and do the same the next day to get back to Kibune. Staying in Seryoan will be an unforgettable and very relaxing experience for sure!
▶Book a room at Seryoan
Do you prefer to stay in cheaper accommodation in Kyoto with good access to Kurama and Kibune instead? Then you should consider Benidaruma Sakuramochi, a simple hostel with a good cost-performance.
▶Book a room at Benidaruma Sakuramochi
Japan Wonder Travel Tours in Kyoto
When you are visiting Kyoto and you need some help organizing your trip, you came to the right place. We’re happy to help you make your trip to Kyoto the best trip ever. We can advise you on where to go or even better, show you around with a local, English speaking guide. Let us help you create safe, comfortable, and unforgettable memories in Kyoto!
Top Pick for you
To fully enjoy the must-visit spots and don’t miss out on interesting things along the way, we recommend you to take this private tour when you visit the Kurama and Kibune areas.
Your English-speaking guide will guide you through this sacred mountain.
It’s much more fun to know the legend and history behind the areas while enjoying hiking in nature.
Other Tours in Kyoto
▶Kyoto Private Full-Day Walking Tour
On this full-day private tour of Kyoto, you will be able to see the highlights of Kyoto in just one day and at the same time develop a deeper understanding of both the culture of the area and Japan as a whole.
▶Total Kyoto Experience
If you only have a day or two in Kyoto, we offer a full-day tour of the city, enabling you to immerse yourself in and fully enjoy the entire city of Kyoto in just 10 hours!
▶Kyoto Food and Drink Tour @Nishiki Street & Gion
If you’re looking to learn more about the culture and the local cuisine of Kyoto, this is the perfect tour for you! Take part in this Kyoto food and drink tour and explore the 400-year-old market and the famous Gion district.
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Stefanie Akkerman moved from the Netherlands to Japan in 2013 with her Japanese husband and son. She jumped into the niche of Dutch tour guiding in Tokyo and Kamakura in 2015 and occasionally writes articles about all the great sights and activities Japan has to offer. She loves (Japanese) food, and to work that all off she goes diving, snorkeling, cycling, or hiking.
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