Kibune is located in the northern part of Kyoto. The long and narrow area lies along the Kibune River nestled between Mt. Kibune and Mt. Kurama. You can visit the famous Kibune Shrine, hiking to Kurama Temple over the mountain or enjoy lunch in summer at the restaurant made on the river.
The shrine consists of three precincts, Hongu, Nakamiya and Okunomiya. You can visit all three shrines. The rows of lanterns painted in red along the approach to Hongu or main shrine is photogenic.
It is unknown when it was founded. There is a document which says it was reconstructed in 666, so it must be a long before that when it was first constructed. By the legend, the shrine was made in this place because the holy mother of the first Emperor Jinmu came here along the river by the yellow ship (yellow ship is called “Kifune” in Japanese).
They enshrine the god of water here. When people needed rain, they donated a black horse. When they wanted to stop the long rainy days, they donated a white horse. They say it is the origin of Ema (wooden tablet to write your wish on) which literally means painted horse. Ema became popular in Edo period.
Even today, people who deal with water such as workers at the restaurant come here to pray for their success in their business. The fortune paper here is very special. When you buy it, it is just a white paper without any characters written on it. But if you put it in the water basin in the precinct, the message will appear.
This shrine is also known as the shrine for the match making. So if you want to have a partner, it is the right place to pray for.
There are about 20 restaurants along the Kibune River (It is confusing that the name of the area and the river is Kibune, but name of the shrine is Kifune). They put temporary open-air dining room on the river from May to September. Summer in Kyoto is very hot. The temperature goes up to 30-35 degrees Celsius, but here on the river, it is about 10 degrees cooler. You can enjoy the nature and local foods such as sweet fish and somen noodle.
The area is beautiful in autumn with colored leaves of maple trees.
Hiking to Kurama Temple
If you like to have a walk, I recommend the hiking trail from Kibune to Kurama. It is about 4 km hike and normally takes two to three hours. The trail goes through the mountain with a lot of ups and downs with the height difference of 200 meters, so you need to have a trekking shoes. You walk through the comfortable forest and you will find several buildings of the temple on the way. From the main hall of the Kurama Temple, you can enjoy the magnificent view of the mountains.
At the goal, there is a train station Kurama, so you don’t have to walk back to Kibune. If you want to have a relaxing time in Kurama, there is a hot spring there for staying overnight or just for day use.
Access to Kibune from Kyoto Station:
From Kibuneguchi (Eizan Line) station and 30 minutes walk or
Kibune bus stop.
From Kokusai Kaikan (subway station), take a local bus to Kibune.