Kyoto : Kurama 鞍馬

Kyoto - Kamogawa

12th December 2010. Written by Xin Li.
Kyoto Japan

We started the day early once again, as daytime is shorter during December we must make full use of the little precious daylight we have to see Kyoto.

Boulangerie Frian Dise

Breakfast for the day was settled with a pleasant fruit pastry from Boulangerie Frian Dise. It has a nice flaky crispy crust with generous chunks of pineapples, peaches and kiwi on it.
It cost about 120 Yen.

Boulangerie Frian Dise

京都 Kyoto - 出町柳駅 Demachiyanagi Station

From Eizan Demachiyanagi Station 出町柳駅, we took a train along the Eizan Kurama Line to Kurama Station. It cost 410 Yen one way and takes about half an hour. If you are into hiking, you could alight at Kibuneguchi station and hike from Kibune to Kurama or vice versa.

Kyoto 京都 - Kurama 鞍馬

The giant red-faced Kurama Tengu 鞍馬天狗 (The Long-Nosed Goblin of Kurama) greets us upon arrival in Kurama station.

Kyoto 京都 - Kurama 鞍馬

From Kurama station, we headed to the star attraction of Kurama, Kurama-dera 鞍馬寺, founded in the Nara Period during the 8th century by the monk Gantei from Nara’s Toshodai-ji. It was designated as a guardian temple for the Northern part of Kyoto in the 9th century by the Emperor when Kyoto was still the capital.

Kyoto 京都 - Kurama-dera Cable 鞍馬寺ケーブル

Not keen on climbing the mountain, we hop onto a cable car (100 Yen) that brought us nearer to the main temple complex.

Kyoto 京都 - Kurama-dera 鞍馬寺

As it was early in the morning, there wasn’t much crowd yet and the temple wardens were busy sweeping leaves and doing ‘area cleaning’. We were met with “ohayo gozaimasu” by the temple wardens as we made our way up to the main temple.

Kyoto 京都 - Kurama-dera 鞍馬寺

Kyoto 京都 - Kurama-dera 鞍馬寺

The pathways were lined with many of these pedestal lanterns. Each seemed to be contribution by someone or an organization like the torii gates of Fushimi Inari Shrine.

Kyoto 京都 - Kurama-dera 鞍馬寺

Kyoto 京都 - Kurama-dera 鞍馬寺

The morning crowd seemed to consist mainly of devotees who lit a candle at each shrine they encountered or pilgrims, distinguished by their all white apparel.

Kyoto 京都 - Kurama-dera 鞍馬寺

Kyoto 京都 - Kurama-dera 鞍馬寺

Kyoto 京都 - Kurama-dera 鞍馬寺

At the top, we were treated to a view of the surrounding mountains.

Kyoto 京都 - Kurama-dera 鞍馬寺

Instead of taking the cable car down, we decided to walk down the slope along a pathway winds through an ancient looking forest with plenty of towering giant sugi (cryptomeria) trees.

Kyoto 京都 - Kurama-dera 鞍馬寺

Kyoto 京都 - Kurama-dera 鞍馬寺

A few of them were marked with shimenawa. These trees are believed to inhabited by spirits known as the Kodama.

Kyoto 京都 - Kurama-dera 鞍馬寺

Further down the pathway, we reach the Yuki-jinja. It is the shrine of the guardian deity of Kurama region. The Warihaiden Sanctuary, located at the center of the stone stairway, is an Important Cultural Property. This is also believed to be where the famous Kurama Fire Festival originated.

Kyoto 京都 - Yuki Jinja 由岐神社

Another key reason to visit Kurama is the Kurama Onsen 鞍馬温泉 located at the end of the single street in the village. It is also accessible via a free shuttle bus that runs between the station and the onsen approximately every 30 minutes.

Kurama Onsen Shuttle Bus

Tickets to the onsen can be purchased from the vending machine outside the outdoor rotemburo or from the ryokan itself. The outdoor bath (with showers, lockers, shampoo and body soap provided) cost 1100 Yen. There is also a package costing 2600 Yen which includes the outdoor rotemburo, towels and a signature lunch set.

Kyoto 京都 - Kurama Onsen 鞍馬温泉

The hot spring waters at Kurama Onsen had a dark cyan color. From the rotemburo, I get to enjoy spectacular view of the surrounding forest-covered mountains while soaking in the warm hot spring water. It was a pleasant experience especially when the weather was cold.

Kyoto 京都 - Kurama Onsen 鞍馬温泉

The rotemburo isn’t very big so come early if possible as it seemed pretty popular for the locals to soak in the onsen after a visit to Kurama-dera or a hike from Kibune.

山の宿 水の宿 くらま温泉

The in-house restaurant of Kurama Onsen.

山の宿 水の宿 くらま温泉

The set lunch included a bowl of soup, yuba, tsukemono and Steam Rice Cooked with Free Range Chicken and Mountain Vegetables, signature dish of the ryokan. It would cost about 1600 Yen without the Onsen.

山の宿 水の宿 くらま温泉 - 地鶏山菜釜ごはん


山の宿 水の宿 くらま温泉 - 地鶏山菜釜ごはん

The food wasn’t spectacular, the chicken was too tough and fatty for my liking and it felt that it lacks flavor. Nonetheless, a nice hot meal was more than welcomed with such cold weather outside, not to mention drizzling.

山の宿 水の宿 くらま温泉 - 地鶏山菜釜ごはん

山の宿 水の宿 くらま温泉 - 地鶏山菜釜ごはん

However, I find 2600 Yen is a little steep for the package. I would recommend just taking the outdoor rotemburo ticket for 1100 Yen and go somewhere else for a better meal.


Boulangerie Frian Dise

京都府
京都市左京区
今出川通川端東入ル北側田中関田町

TEL: 075-724-1172

7:00~19:00
ランチ営業、日曜営業

Kurama Onsen
山の宿 水の宿 くらま温泉

お食事処オーダー 11:00~20:00 
(日により早く終了する場合がございます)

TEL: 075-741-2131

〒601-1111京都市左京区鞍馬本町520


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