What comes to your mind when you think about travelling to Japan? Most of you probably think of Kyoto, one of the most popular destinations for foreign visitors. However, how many of you have heard of Kifune and Kurama, the area called “annex” to Kyoto? In this page, I would like to lead you to the hidden-away Oasis to which you can get by an hour train ride from the central area of Kyoto.
1. Kifune Shrine
Kifune-jinja enshrines the god of rain and water, which is believed to be an originating principle of every existing thing. You may have the experience of drawing fortune strips in Japanese shrines, but you can have even more unique experiences here with its “water fortune strip” (Mizuuramikuji).
When you get the blank strip, float it in the spring. The holy water will show your fortune to you. Concerned about reading the Japanese language? Don’t worry! The fortune strip has a QR code on it that connects to a translation system in English, simplified Chinese, traditional Chinese and Korean!
Kifune is also known for “river floors” (Kawadoko), riverside-built floors where you can sit over the river and even feel splashes. This is the best place for you to escape the summer heat and enjoy the comforting sound of the water under the cool breeze. Don’t forget to make a reservation for dining in!
2. The legend of Tengu
Getting off at the terminal station “Kurama” of Eizan Railway, you will be welcomed by a big statue of Tengu. Tengu is said to be the god or the specter, with its distinctive red face that has a long nose.
Then, you may wonder why this statue has been built here. This comes from folklore about a famous samurai warrior from the 12th century, Minamoto no Yoshitsune (also called Ushiwakamaru): it is said that he learned martial arts from Tengu in this mountain in his childhood.
The Tengu statue once lost its distinctive long nose, broken by the heavy snow, but it has recovered from the unfortunate injury and is now waiting for you in Kurama!
3. Kurama Temple
Once you step into Kurama Temple, you will notice this fashionable floor in front of the main building. This pattern actually represents the universe, the principal image of this temple.
Also, a pair of statues of guardian tigers make the scenery unique in this Kurama temple, as they usually place dog-shaped guardians by the entry gates in Japanese temples and shrines.
Worship, enjoy history and nature!
This area is a good place for you to walk around. The cooler climate in this area makes it easier for you to walk in Japan’s humid and hot summer. If you are planning to visit this place in the fall, you can enjoy beautiful autumn leaves along the trail. You will also have options to travel by a cable car, so explore various options that suit your plan, stamina, time, and purposes!