Monday found me up in Kyoto for the first time in years. It is such a beautiful city, and maybe sometimes I forget that. Particularly, I love Kyoto in the evenings, with the lights, and the little streams with the willow trees hanging calmly beside them. Also, I love those little cobbled-stone, wooden-walled alleys that generally lead up to enticing restaurants.
Anyway, as I said, Monday found me in the former capital with time on my hands and adventure on my mind. Having discussed various options with myself and friends, including the penguin, who is shortly to return to the colder climes of the Antarctic, I decided to head up to the forest-covered mountain to discover Kurama, as I had never been there before, and everyone tells me it is wonderful.
At the back of my mind was the thought that my parents are visiting Japan again soon, for the ninth or tenth time, and they have only ever been to Kyoto once or twice I think. So, I thought that I might take them there for a couple of days to see something they haven’t seen before.
So, with camera in hand, I took the train out to Demachiyanagi, and from there I took the excellent tram service to Kuruma. The journey into the countryside only took about 40 minutes from the city centre, and what an incredible contrast the endless greenery and tranquility made from the downtown concrete and noise.
I had a quick, and cheap, bowl of Oyakudon at one of the few local omiyage shops outside the station, consciously avoiding the clearly over-priced ‘we-have-English-menu’ tourist traps on the other side of the road, and set off on the 90-minute walk over the mountain, back to Kibune, just to check out if it would be a suitable walk for my mum and dad.
The initial walk up the steps and through the first temple, Nio-mon, the gate of the guardians, was incredibly steep, but as luck would have it (especially seeing as that a group of around 3000 elementary school kids had gathered around to stare at the pink-faced, gaijin tengu) the last funicular railway train was about to slide up the mountain side: I love those trains. They are called cable-cars in Japanese, which is a bit confusing for a native English speaker, because a cable-car for me is what Japanese call ‘ropeway’, which I guess actually makes more sense really. There is a great funicular railway in Barcelona, which I remember very clearly takes you up to the Miro museum and the Olympic stadium.
Anyway, to cut a long story short, I walked along the well-trodden path, amazed yet again by the beauty that Japan has to offer, and wondering how many people had passed along the same route over the centuries. Eventually, the path meets the mountain road in Kibune, and it is a pleasant 20-minute walk alongside the crystal clear river, where in summer they have the famous kawadoko, to the station.
From here, I took the lovely two-carriage train, with seats facing outwards, back to Kyoto city, planning to return soon with my parents to walk once again through the tranquil forest to eat botan-nabe in one of the many restaurants in Kibune. And of course I took many, many photos, some of which I would like to share with you now. I will categorise them accordingly.
The welcome for all gaijins arriving at Kurama is … ruddy-faced and big-nosed … hmm!
I am interested in the juxtaposition of nature and man-made objects, and how sometimes there seems to be order in nature: clear lines at right angles, for example. The photos below show how I see things, the things I look for when I take a photo: the lines and the colours, unusual angles and how man has affected things.
Angles, lines and colours
cut down trees
trees trunks and …
more tree images
Finally, as I strolled along the forest path, from time-to-time, I thought I caught sight of some o-bake, monsters or ghosts I guess, which are a common feature of dark forests the world over: don’t be afraid when you see them, they cannot harm you.
Can you see the faces in these photos?
This last one may be more difficult to spot, but keep looking and you will see the face of a little imp! Thanks for reading!