By no means off the beaten path, the fact that so many people from all walks of life and every age, make the pilgrimage to hike up Kurama mountain makes it even more beautiful. Not only is it naturally beautiful with rambling tree roots, moss and views, but it happens to be a magical mountain where legendary spirits dwell, dotted with shrines for them along the way. A very interesting hike. We wanted to walk from Kibune town over the mountain to Kurama to end with a soak at Kurama onsen as our reward for a 2 hour or so hike. <>
Kibune town has little shops and ryokans along the river. You pay a small fee to enter the trail where they give you a map. The trail is a bit steep at first but well taken care of with steps put in place and railings. As you pass others they say “Konnichiwa.” After awhile we started to call it Konnichiwa mountain instead of Kuramadera. It is the friendliest mountain we have ever climbed.
Along the way you will pass a few small temples and a museum before you get to Kurama temple which is quite outstanding. This is a nice place to take a break, take in a beautiful view of the valley, light some incense and say some prayers if you feel inspired.
Apparently there is a mandala in front of the shrine which feels like a good energy vortex. Regardless of what you believe, it definitely feels like a special place. Apparently Reiki energy work was supposedly born or transmitted on this mountain which I did not learn until after I visited. Definitely feels full of positive energy.
On the descent are a few more small shrines. One of the famous Tengu Sojobo with a long red nose – a symbol of Kurama. Here you can get a key chain with a fortune, an amulet or other various charms. Say some more prayers and head down to the bottom for good luck and good health. This creative spirit is credited with teaching swordsmanship as well! Watch out.
The fall foliage in November was also lovely at points along the trail. More natural magic.
At Kurama town there are a few tourist shops selling everything with images of Sojobo. At the Kurama train station you can hop on a free shuttle van to Kurama onsen or walk ten minutes to the end of town. Kurama onsen is very simple. Just one small indoor bath and one outdoor bath but it’s the perfect ending to a great day. Like most onsens they have lockers, towel rental, soap etc., so you don’t need anything. Rest your weary bones in the lovely rotenburo overlooking Kurama’s swaying hillside trees. Can’t imagine a better day if I tried.