Climb a holy mountain and experience Japanese onsen culture
Mt. Kurama looms over northern Kyoto, set back in a mountian range known for its wild forest, plunging valleys, and steep slopes. In the year 770, a monk named Gantei had a dream that led him to build a magnificent temple on top of the mountain. Mt. Kurama became an import Buddhist retreat for yamabushi, Buddhist mountain hermit monks, who practiced their own unique form of Esoteric Buddhism. Over the year, the focus of the temple shifted away from traditional doctrine, and the strange mix of Buddhism and New Age religion practiced at Kurama Temple today is an oddity. Additionally, many locals believe that long-nosed tengu goblins still inhabit the mountain's forests. With such a strange history, Mt. Kurama and nearby Kibune Shrine are ripe with interesting stories and occult legends for you to explore.
KyoTours is excited to offer you a chance to experience one of Kyoto's best hidden gems and explore the legends of Mt. Kurama for yourself. Japanese visitors are a common sight at Mt. Kurama, but it's not a popular destination for foreign tourists due to the remote location of the mountain and the multiple transfers between rail lines that are required. Additionally, visiting Mt. Kurama requires varying levels of physical activity depending on what route you want to take. But don't worry! You'll be able to soak any aches away at the famous Kurama Onsen at the foot of the mountain after the hike. This is a wonderful chance to experience a quintessential part of Japanese culture by relaxing in a large outdoor bath with a gorgeous view of the mountains.
Please read the sample itinerary and additional info carefully, as we offer several ways to experience Mt. Kurama. The following is a sample itinerary that includes the full Mt. Kurama experience:
- Let your guide navigate you through the rail transfers required to reach the valley at the foot of Mt. Kurama
- Ride the charming Eizan Densha train out of the city and through winding valleys and past forested slopes.
- Disembark and hike to Kibune Shrine, dedicated to the Shinto god who controls the rainfall in Kyoto.
- Hike along the spine of the mountain range, stopping at numerous small temples and shrines.
- See the shrine where famous 12th century samurai Yoshitsune was said to have been trained by the tengu king.
- Stand on the famous "power spot" in front of Kurama Temple and draw power from the infinite cosmos.
- Learn of the occult beliefs of the unique religion practiced at Kurama that mixes New Age ideas and Buddhism.
- Descend the mountain and enjoy a soak at Kurama Onsen, a wonderful secluded hot spring. (optional)
- Put on a yukata robe and enjoy a meal at the onsen. Dine on local specialties cooked in a homemade style. (optional)
Please note that this is a hiking tour, and requires prolonged physical activity. The trails are not rough, but they are long and there are many stairs to climb. You will essentially be ascending and descending a mountain! There is a cable car that runs from the base of Mt. Kurama to about half way up, but it occasionally is not operational, so you may have to hike that portion of the trail. Your guide will confirm the status of the cable car the day before the tour, but it may suddenly be unavailable on the day of the tour. This is a great hike for active guests who feel up for some physical activity, but not recommended for those who have injuries or are not confident about their physical condition.
Because of weather conditions and transportation closures, this tour may not be available during winter. Please contact us for availability information.
Regarding the hot springs, this is an excellent chance to try Kyoto's most famous outdoor onsen bath. Bathing is done in the nude, so it's alright to be a little nervous if it's your first time! Let your guide explain the proper bathing etiquette, and even accompany you into the bathing area if you want. To learn more about onsen, click here.
If you would like to experience Mt. Kurama without the long hike, it can still be visited but some walking is required. The temple itself has many stairs, slopes, and dirt inclines. There are several ways that we can show you the mountain, some of which require less walking. Please contact us with any concerns or questions, and we can try to tailor an itinerary to your needs and interests so that you can still experience Mt. Kurama.
Mt. Kurama Hiking Tour
Duration: varies depending on which course you choose to take, but approx 4 to 5 hours
Price: 17000 yen for one guest
(4000 yen for each additional guest)
- This is a hiking tour, so comfortable clothing and shoes are necessary. Your guide reserves the right to deny service to guests who are not wearing appropriate shoes. In other words, no flip flops or high heels!
- This tour can book booked for various starting times, but the hiking section must be completed before sundown.
- This full tour may not be available in winter due to snow and weather conditions. Please contact us for more information.
- Tour price includes transportation fees (train, cablecar, and/or bus) and temple admission fees.
- Guests are responsible for their own bill for any food or drink purchased while on the tour.
- Onsen entrance fees must be paid by the guest. There are several hot spring packages to choose from.
- Bathing is done in the nude, and is separated by gender. Guests can choose to bath with their guide or not. There will most likely be other people bathing at the same time as you, so please do not expect complete privacy.
- Additional activities chosen by the guests during an all day tour must be paid for by guests.
- Itinerary subject to change due to seasonal changes in temple hours, special events, transportation delays, weather, or other factors. Guests will be kept informed of any itinerary changes as they occur on the day of the tour.
- Please read our terms and conditions for more information before booking.
To book this tour, inquire about scheduling, or request more info, please use the contact form below.