Extra time to spare in Kyoto?
Why not take the train to Kurama, a rural village at the last station on Eizan Railway in Kyoto. Soak in a traditional outdoor onsen surrounded by nature and explore a temple that spans almost half of Mount Kurama’s mountainside. All without the tourist fanfare that central Kyoto temples have so much of.
Have you ever gone skinny dipping in an onsen (japanese hot spring) by the forest near the last train station in Kyoto while a group of obasan (japanese term for middle-aged ladies) starts crooning a traditional japanese song with truckloads of emotional conviction?
Have you ever met naked ladies so excited to take pictures of each other fully unclothed all in the name of obasan friendship?
If you haven’t been caught in these unexpected moments that are both awkward and amusing, then you have to go to Kurama.
The path to the onsen. There is a free shuttle bus service from Kurama train station to the onsen. 2500yen for indoor and outdoor onsen. They have a vending machine for towels.
Behind this man is the entrance to Kurama-dera, the buddhist temple that snakes through the steep woods of the mountainside.
The place is grand. Couldn’t capture it in pictures. Reminds me of the scenes in Totoro. Stepping through these Torii gates felt like i’m stepping into another world.
The Shimenawa (straw rope with white zigzag paper strips) around the tree marks the boundary to something sacred.
There was a lot of path to cover, it takes about 1 hour 45 minutes to savor the scenery and get to the top.
A shrine with omikuji (fortune paper slips). It is said that tying a drawn omikuji around a tree branch can help your good luck come forth, and avert bad luck at the same time.
The hiking trail led to Kibune, another town. Along the paths were many other temples.
Halfway to the top.
Then you end the journey by making your way down the path you came from. The journey is always faster when its familiar.
In Japan, every town has a mascot. Kurama’s mascot has an extremely long nose.
How to get there:
From Gion Shijo station (central Kyoto, where most hostels are), take Keihan Railways towards Demachi-Yanagi Station. Then change lines to Eizan Railway towards Kurama station. It takes about 30 minutes.