The Legend of Mt. Kurama’s Tengu
A large tengu is displayed in front of Eizan Railway’s Kurama Station. It’s said that a tengu resides on Mt. Kurama, and that it’s known that he taught the art of Japanese swordsmanship to Ushiwakamaru (General Minamoto-no Yoshitsune). A Buddhist temple gate (Nioumon) close to the station is the entrance to Mt. Kurama. A one-way 2-min. cable car ride will take you to Tahoto Station. It’s a fairly steep climb if walking, but if stopping off at Yugi Shrine, famous for the Kurama Fire Festival, it is necessary from Nioumon. You can see photos of the Fire Festival at Yugi Shrine and buy charms and hand towels with the festival motif. Passing the shrine, the winding path continues on, but the clean air, refreshed by nature, feels very good.
Popular as a power spot
The Main Golden Hall of Kurama-dera Temple is known to be where Ushiwakamaru spent his childhood. The “Rokubousei” or Hexagram in front of the main building of Kurama-dera Temple is popular as a power spot where it’s said that the energy of Heaven descends, and if you stand in the center, you can feel that energy. Going to Kibune Temple, take the Ki-no-Nemichi path from Reihouden Hall. It is a winding road that will take about 1 hour to traverse and it’s known as the place where Ushiwakamaru practiced. Take the same path to return to Kurama Station, and you can take a short break at a café specializing in Japanese sweets right by Nioumon. If you have the chance, please experience up close the “Kurama Fire Festival” which occurs every October 22nd. A traditional rite that began from a wish for peace during the Heian Era, men wearing the straw sandals of samurai run throughout the town carrying flaming torches 4 meters in length and 100 kg in weight, yelling “Sairei, sairyo”, which makes for a thrilling sight as the mikoshi (portable shrines) are passing by in a shower of sparks. The appearance of torches lighting up the darkness packs a real punch.