Kurama-dera   鞍馬寺

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The tengu by the entrance to Kurama-dera

Mystical Buddhist Temple in Kyoto

Kyoto has an unparalleled amount of temples and shrines. To be entirely honest, it will be difficult to visit all of these treasures during your stay. Today we'll introduce you to one that should merit your attention.

Nature lovers ? The city offers in its periphery several great attractions such  as Arashiyama (嵐山) in the west or Uji (宇 治), famous for the high quality of tea produced in the south. Unfortunately their popularities conceal the existence of other places worth a visit too. Among them: the temple of Kurama, Kurama-dera.

A mystical energy 

Kurama-dera is a Buddhist temple located north of Kyoto on the eponymous mountain and near the famous Mount Hiei (比叡 山). It was founded in 770 by the monk Gantei, who came from Nara and owned the Tendai Buddhist School.

Today, with some of its non-standard practices, and veneration of its triad of deities, the temple does have a separate status in the Japanese Buddhist schools.

Kurama-dera experienced many fires throughout its history, but the statues and other goods have always been saved and have now become treasures recognized by the State. It is often said that the temple has a strong mystical energy. Spirituality around this place remains authentic!

The enchanting journey on the Eizan line 

To access the temple from Kyoto, we must first take Eizan Kurama line.  Riding this train is an experience in itself. Composed of a single car, the wagon offers seats facing the windows to allow passengers to easily enjoy the scenery. The train leaves behind the urban landscape to unveil a green decor and and beautiful mountainous reliefs. A treat in any season.

Ride all the way to the end, to Kurama Station (鞍馬). Just out of the station, a huge Tengu (天狗), the famous long-nosed god, will welcome you. The Tengu are often considered benevolent Kami (Shinto deities).

A cable car provides access to the temple; but from our experience, we strongly recommend not to take this, and make the ascent on foot. This short hike is easily accessible, and makes for a fantastic opportunity to soak up the mystical and spiritual energy that reigns in these places. Finally, you will arrive at the imposing complex that is Kurama-dera, and its vast Kondô building (金堂).

The walk does not end there!

Once you have finished visiting Kurama-dera, why not continue the adventure? You can indeed continue climbing mountain.

The walk amongst this beautiful forest of cedars is very pleasant. Continue on the marked trail that will take you to Kibune (貴 船). Kibune is a picturesque village, although quite touristy. Nevertheless, it remains a charming village, and the Kibune Shinto shrine is well worth a visit.

Also, you must not leave without eating nagashi somen (流 し そ う め ん): fine grain noodles that must be caught with your chopsticks as they slip past before your eyes on a water slide made of bamboo. A local specialty!

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