Monday, November 17, 2014

Kyoto: Kurama and Kibune

v Kurama-dera
· Legend says it was founded by a Chinese Buddhist monk who saw a dream in 772 AD that Mt. Kurama had spiritual power.  It burned down many times, and switched between 3 different Buddhist sects.  Postwar, it split from Buddhism and started its own hybrid religion of Taoism, Shintoism and other mountain mysticism.  The enshrined was first just Bishamonten.  Now there are also Kannon (love god) and the defender lord (power god). 
· This is also Tengu land!   Tengu are bird/man hybrids, often with large noses or beaks, black feathers, and red faces.  They usually have feather fans which can stir up the wind.  Traditionally opponents of Buddhism, wrecking vandalism/theft in temples, possessing people, etc.  They are thought by some to be ghosts of nuns, priests, etc. who had too much pride.
§ There are three “greatest tengu” on different mountains, Sojobo being the daitengu of Kurama.
§ In the 18th/19th century, the Tengu’s image became more positive - a “vigilante of the forest”

v Kibune Jinja (“Kifune”)
· Legend says a goddess traveled in a yellow boat from Osaka, up the river, and the shrine was built where her journey came to an end.  Dedicated to the Shinto god of water and rain.

· Shrine is associated with ushi no toki mairi, the ritual of wearing candles on the head and laying a curse.  Famous through a noh play where Hashihime (princess of uji bridge) learns the curse (at Kibune) to turn herself into an oni to get revenge on her cheating lover.

So up the mountains a bit from Kyoto is a fairly popular hike - Kurama to Kibune temple.  I read a bunch of different blogs beforehand, trying to figure out which was the easiest route for novice hikers.  We decided to do the funicular up to Kurama, then the hike over to Kibune, and finally back down the road to the fork where the train was. It was a good decision, since I think it ended up being more downhill than uphill.

But let's back up a bit. To get to Kurama-dera, we first took a train from demachiyanagi station (the same place we were the day before for our anime pilgrimage).
Supposedly the train goes through a tunnel of lights, but I guess it's only at night? We didn't see it.
Once at the base of Kurama, we found a big tengu waiting for us!
Sak, wondering what he is waiting for exactly.
And also some friends from Eccentric Family!!

Gintaro and Kintaro, evil tanuki cousins!
What a more traditional tanuki statue looks like.

A short pass through the lower entrance, to board Japan's shortest funicular.  Isn't that a fun word? I like saying it. Funicular funicular!

I bet it's spectacular lit up at night!

Rainbowish lizard!

Steep!
The temple was quite beautiful in its mountain setting, and because of the higher altitude the temperature was nice and cool.






I didn't use any of the spider-infested toilets along the way, but I thought it was funny they all had unique signs.
Sak picked up his shuincho and I found a stamp for my stamp book! woohoo!

Lovely resting area with tatami benches
stamp quest!!
After Kurama, we began our hike to Kibune. Walking through the forest was simply magical!



The path was fairly well marked, and wide enough to avoid any spider-infested brush. And the spiders in Japan were insane.  You know the skulltulas in Zelda? EXACTLY like that. Huge. Yellow. Pure evil.

Anyway, after a comfortable 3ish miles, we had worked up a healthy sweat.  We took a break at Kifune temple and ate onigiri.




For a donation you could take a bottle of their water!
This shrine is on social media!
Sak, shuin collector.  See the "EP" looking kanji on the sign? :3

After our break, we walked back down the mountain along the river.  The road is a little narrow, so watch out for flying buses.  Scary!

How cool is this? Riverside teahouses where you can sit on the river!
Though we did not see any real tengu flying around, I really enjoyed the temples and hike! Sak considers this day one of his top highlights, and I'd definitely recommend it to anyone who would like a bit of exercise and a lot of nature!

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