One of my friends who used to study at Kyoto University recommended to go hiking at Mount Kurama. Sometimes, it was overwhelming and tiring to walk in crowded Kyoto town with many visitors. In that case, we could escape from the tiredness to refreshing areas. Here is your complete quick guide to Kurama.
When you arrive at Kurama Station, you will see a huge red Tengu, which is a long-nosed goblin. There is an old tale in which Tengu taught martial arts to Yoshitsune Minamoto, a hero of the Kamakura era in the 12th Century. In Japan, we have many kinds of local mascots from HELLO KITTY to Sento-kun in Nara. I believed Kurama Tengu is one of the earliest local mascots in Japan. Many licensed goods from key holders to towels were sold there. I did get my fortune told with Omikuji and got a key holder.
Mount Kurama Hiking
The path was steep and narrow in some areas and it was not paved but was well maintained with wood and stones. The flowing water of the small river was so clean and the surrounding greenery was bright. Mount Kurama is one of the best places for the forest bathing. When I talked to a staff member of the Ryokan in Kyoto, she said walking shoes or flat shoes would be fine to hike at Mount Kurama. People from Kyoto go to Mount Kurama for mountain hiking. It is obvious because Mount Kurama used to be a training area for mountain ascetics. I was fine with my flat shoes, but trekking shoes would be much better. Some people are taking their dogs for a walk while enjoying the green nature and clear brook.
It gradually becomes steeper and takes one and a half hours to arrive at the Kifune area from Mount Kurama. The Kurama and Kifune areas used to be Japanese mountain ascetics fields, so you can see quiet and steep mountain scenery. It was not so hard, but it took 1.5 hours and I was so relieved to finally arrive at the Kifune area.
川床 (Kawayuka) riverside terrace restaurant
During summer, you can enjoy 川床 (Kawayuka) in Kyoto, riverside terrace cafes and restaurants along the Kamogawa and Kifune Rivers. Kawayuka in Gion is one of the attractions for tourists in Kyoto, but if you prefer a much cooler place, Kifune is a better place to visit. It is also said Kifune’s Kawayuka is much more sophisticated and the foods are better. In the Kifune area, there are several Kawayuka restaurants ranging from reasonably priced to high-end.
Floating Noodle at Kawayuka
I had Nagashi Soumen at Hirofumi Kawayuka restaurant. One bite Japanese white noodle was floating from the half tube of bamboo. We used to eat Nagashi Soumen once or twice in summer using half a piece of bamboo with flowing water from the hose. It is almost impossible to grab one bite noodle with chopsticks, so a lot of noodles were left over at the end of the bamboo. Also, people tend to be in a hurry to grab one noodle after another, so we had to drink the noodles. There was no moment to chew. Finally, kids gathered the soggy noodles accumulated at the end of the bamboo. That scene caused laughter. It was the moment to enjoy Nagashi Soumen. It is a particular event in Summer. The one bite noodle is flowering from bamboo tube. If you want to take photos, there is not enough time to eat noodles. You cannot do both at the same time, so I missed the one-bite noodle as I was taking photos.
Hirofumi provides Nagashi Soumen, floating Japanese noodle. The restaurant was so popular with tourists. I arrived at early lunchtime, but the waiting time was 30 mins, so I walked around the Kifune area to see an Aioi-sugi, Twins Japanese Cedar.