Over the Mountain & Through the Woods

I really want to be in a hostel two nights in a row so I can finally sleep in. Today is not that day. The sun is out and I’m eyeing a smaller mountain– Kitayama. The internet tells me there are two towns connected with a trail. I’m on way to Kurama where I’ll walk to Kibune.

Look who greets me at the train station.

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Kurama seems to be a one road town with the usual shops leading up to a temple, Kurama-dera. There’s onsen, too, but I didn’t realize the trail started at the temple.

Kurama-dera is a sprawling temple complex with a lot of stairs. This shouldn’t bother me as much as it does; I’m an expert stair climber at this point. There’s a sign for a lift but it’s under maintenance, not that I need it.

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I take a break to eat one of the snacks I brought– sushi. It’s one of my better breakfasts.

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Flowers are in bloom… It’s autumn, isn’t it?

The temple is littered with tiny shrines and sacred nature spots. A couple giant trees and a fountain for instance.

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With all these lanterns, it must be pretty cool to walk here at night.

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It’s also a hot spot for school field trips and adorable matching hats.

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Not sure what this is about… A story about the temple inhabitants?

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The real adventure begins here. The sign has pictures of wild things to watch out for, the usual wasps and snakes.

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I talked with this guy for a bit and rang the bell unintentionally loud like the American I am. It was obscene.

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Naturally on the trail, it can’t be only a dirt path with trees. There’s shrines of course. Somewhere around this temple they host a Fire Festival, Kurama Hi Matsuri. I’m too late for cool events. This is also where the traffic starts.

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As the trail levels out and descends the mountain, I’m hoping I won’t have to walk back up this mountain. There must be a way to get back to Kyoto from Kibune.

Out of the woods, you run into the babbling brook and the onsen that line it.

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It’s at this point that I take my 9,999th photo with my camera. That’s some RPG level junk. The camera now has to start over, reusing numbers. That’ll be fun organizing my Japan photos. 🙂

Anyway, I’m going backwards here. Instead of entering the shrine, I follow the stream to the end, the end of the shrine called Okunomiya. It’s believed that a goddess traveled by boat from Osaka to this spot.

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It’s time for lunch. I buy a hot drink and find a nice spot near the stream to eat my sandwich (katsu onigirazu?).

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in warmer months, they server meals at tables setup in the stream

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Okay, now for the beginning of Kibune Shrine. The Shrine is for the god of water and is also a protector of those at sea.

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That’s it for Kibune! In my wanderings, I found a map that shows a bus leading to the train station. The station isn’t far so I walk there instead. A few other folk have the same idea. It’s a nice day after all.

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The train arrives soon after I get there and this is what I find at the transfer point. Must be the fire festival.

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It’s still light out so I go walking, maybe find some food. Not surprising, I end up in a bakery. I love bakeries.

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I spotted this building and thought it didn’t fit in with Kyoto’s decor.

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I continue downstream. I’ve never been along the river this far north. I wish cities back home put this much planning near rivers instead of building houses that flood.

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Yet again, it’s another backpack pick up and another hostel to check in to. There’s also talk of rain and I’m without an umbrella since I left mine behind at the onsen a few days ago. The department stores are still open. I pick out a cute one and walk through the kimono section, squealing with delight.

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