Kurama and Kibune

As if a day-long trip through Nara yesterday wasn’t enough, I thought I’d take another short day trip, this time to Kurama. It’s a favorite spot up in the mountains and only about 20 minutes away by the little electric train you can catch about 5 minutes’ walk from the dorms.

WOW! You’ll have to look at my photo album to see the scope of the hike, but it was pretty impressive. After getting off the train in Kurama, we walked first to Kurama-dera; Alia took the cable car shortcut up the mountain, but I walked it. I’m glad I did, too, since I was able to see numerous shrines and other sights. I even videotaped a group of pilgrims chanting at one of them which was very cool.

At the top was the temple itself, and after a bit of rest and quick look though the nearby museum (where I left a small message written in my best possible Japanese in the guest book), it was over the hill and down into the valley at Kibune. The trek wasn’t all that far distance wise (around 1-2 miles altogether), but the vertical change was well over 1,000 feet. It was raining very gently all day long, so everything was damp, misty and fresh smelling. Seeing the mist and low clouds in the trees really makes you understand where the inspiration comes from for so many pieces of Japanese art. You also can’t help but feel a reverence for everything around you and a great appreciation for the natural world and its greenness.

In Kibune, the different Ryokan (traditional inns) all have platforms built out over the river where people can come and eat dinner when it’s hot in the summer. Needless to say, they weren’t serving on such a rainy day—it must be a nice experience, though. We hiked down the winding road and took the same train back.

In the evening, we met Kishi-sensei and her two friends in town and had Okonomiyaki for dinner. Now this is something that I’ve always wanted to try ever since seeing U-chan cooking it in Ranma 1/2. It’s sort of like Japan’s answer to pizza—although it’s almost more like an omelet or a pancake. You basically order off the menu, they whip it up and bring it to your table which has a convenient hot grill in the center. You can get all sorts of interesting and tasty ingredients put in—meat, seafood, noodles, vegetables, you name it. You then whack off a piece and eat it with your choice of sauces and mayonnaise. It’s really delicious, and I’ve got to try and find an okonomiyaki-ya back home if I can.

We had some ice cream while waiting for the bus back to campus and then…

Studying (and laundry). Sorry I didn’t get either a vidcast or podcast done, but I’ll try really hard during the week so stay tuned.

BTW—extra credit for anime fans: did you know that Mt. Kurama where I went today is one of two protecting mountains in North Kyoto (the other being Mt. Hiei). Two of the main characters in Yu Yu Hakusho, were of course named after these mountains…

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