In the northern mountains of Kyoto is the quaint village of Kibune, where you can find Kifune Shrine, many ryokan and cedar forests.
The shrine accessible by train and then by bus or on foot.
Take the Keihan Line to Demachiyanagi Station and transfer to the Eizan Dentetsu Line. Get off at Kibune-guchi Station. From there, it’s a 20-minute walk up the road to Kibune. There are some buses that run from the station to the village.
The best times to visit Kifune are August, when the summer heat isn’t so strong because of the high elevation and shadowy forests, and autumn, when the maples dazzle with color.
Kifune Shrine is known for the incredibly photo-worthy stone steps that lead up to it, lined on either side with red lanterns. The shrine is dedicated to the god of water. According to legend, a goddess arrived in Kifune on a yellow boat, and the shrine marks the place where she finally landed.
Okunomiya, the location of the original shrine, is a kilometer away up the road. There you can see the large stone said to be covering the remains of the goddesses’ yellow boat.
Those in the food industry often visit Kifune Shrine to pray for business success. The shrine features a very unique omikuji, or paper fortune: for ¥200, you can purchase a blank piece of paper on which a fortune appears only when you float it on the water of the shrine’s fountain.
A lovely hiking trail connects Kibune with Kurama, a village on the other side of the mountain. It’s a steep walk up the mountain path, but the trail is laid with steps and handrails in more difficult areas.
It’s not a bad idea to begin in Kibune and finish in Kurama so you can soak in their excellent onsen—the best in Kyoto—surrounded by picturesque forests and mountains.
The village of Kibune is also known for restaurants that feature kawadoko, or decks, over the rushing Kibune River below. Throughout the summer, you can partake in a fancy and traditional Japanese kaiseki dinner while admiring the flowing water beneath you.
The food is remarkably fresh—your fish may even have been caught from the same river. Reserve ahead for these meals that usually start at ¥3000 per person.