Northern Kyoto: Kurama and Kibune (part 2)

So, I finally made it to Kibune and was it ever worth it. My “hiking buddy” was still with me, about 10 feet ahead, as we finally came to the end of the trail. All I could think about was finding a vending machine and pouring huge amounts of liquid into my body. I was so soaked in sweat- it was just stupid. I’ve been living away from such a humid climate for so long that I’m just not used to it anymore. In an attempt to cool down on the hike, I had taken off my light weight oxford shirt that I had been wearing, but it didn’t really help as my undershirt was just wet. I had so much sweat pouring down my face that I felt like I was never going to cool down. Sorry to make such a huge deal about this, but I have never been this overtaken by perspiration in my life.

So, as I came down the path that winds down the hill, I emerged out of the forest, and onto a road, Kibune Street. You then cross that to reach the stone stairs that lead up to Kifune Shrine.  The beautiful staircase is adorned with red lanterns on both sides that start at the bottom and end at the wooden gate at the top. There is also the lovely metal railing running the length of the stairs- nice touch.

Before heading up, I paused to catch my breath and tried and cool down a little. I didn’t see any vending machines and decided that getting a drink could wait as I wanted to see the shrine before it got too dark.

My hiking buddy had wandered away without really saying anything to me, he just made his way up the stone stairs and I felt a bit bad that I didn’t get to thank him for his assistance. The entire time I was following him, I just thought ” I should buy him a cold beverage when we get to the end of the trail.” In reality, I think he just wanted to ditch me as fast as he could, especially given how much of a mess I was.

So after some photography/cool down time, I ascended the stairs into Kifune Jinja or Kibune Shrine. When you reach the top of the steps, you enter through the gate then make a left up some more stairs to the shrine itself. There weren’t that many people there as it was getting late in the day, maybe 10 people including myself. I spent about half an hour total looking around and photographing the shrine. And by then, the light had started to fade and I decided to leave as I wanted to see some of the town and river before it got too dark.

As I was getting ready to head back down the exit stairs, I was approached by two young japanese women, maybe 20 years old each who asked me to take their picture. I replied yes and the one girl handed me her camera. I was a bit shocked when I realized that it was a disposable film camera. They posed in front of a statue of two horses, I clicked the shutter, and they were good. (I wish I knew what the significance of the statue was. I wasn’t able to talk to anyone up in the shrine to find out any additional information.)

Now, I thought I should ask them to return the favor and get a quick picture of me as I wanted some record of myself there. As soon as I asked, I immediately realized that they didn’t really speak any english and my little bit of Japanese wasn’t going to get me anywhere. You see, when they asked me to take their photo it was one of those things where it was an awkward “excuse me” from them and then once I saw their camera I understood what they wnated. However, with my camera things got a bit confusing. The girl who took the picture was overwhelmed to say the least by my camera, which I totally understand. It took several tries but in the end I got a photo of my ultra sweat soaked self for posterity.

Ok, so now that that’s out of the way, down to the river.

As soon as I hit the street, I found a vending machine and got a beverage, a CC Lemon. So good. It was beginning to get dark and so as the light began to fade, I decided that I should make my way down to catch the bus to the Kibune train station while at the same time, exploring the quiet street. Honestly, there really wasn’t too much to see but what there was, was beautiful.

I was walking south down the main road that runs through Kibune, Kibune Street,  with the river on my left. Traditional restaurants lined the side of the river and they had platforms built out over the river for what looked like a fantastic dining experience. I couldn’t really see much unfortunately- mostly just lanterns through wooden screens. (NOTE:  I did know about the restaurants before hand but, due to my physical appearance, I didn’t even bother trying to stop and eat. I definitely looked like some crazy riff-raff.)

At one point, where there was a break in the buildings exposing the river, a beautiful crane (I think it was a crane) flew down and landed right in front of me. Magical. It was one of those moments that seemed almost staged.

I sat on the edge of the road next to the river and watched the bird for a good while. In fact, I waited for quite a while thinking maybe it would leave and I could get some nice shots of it taking flight. But, that never happened, so I gave up and decided to move on. It was a nice walk the rest of the way to the bus stop. Maybe one or two cars passed me but I was the only one walking. It was a great walk, so many little details to see and appreciate and photograph.

I finally reached what seemed like a parking lot and hoped that it was the bus stop. I couldn’t tell from any of the signs and there was nobody around to ask. Maybe a minute after I got there, a bus arrived and it was the right one. The driver got out to have a cigarette and I got on the bus to wait. I took the seat next to the driver’s seat and didn’t wait very long at all for him to come back. On the way down we started chatting and I managed to pull together enough Japanese to tell him why I was there, where I was from, etc. It was a nice way to pass the time on the short ride and he was extremely friendly.

Kibuneguchi station was quiet. The sun was down now and the natural sounds of the night were playing a peaceful tune. It was nice. The train ride back down to Demachiyanagi Station was pretty quick as was the rest of the trip back to Kyoto Station.

I decided that to top off the day, the perfect thing for dinner would be Tonkatsu. So I headed to a little place I like called KYK Tonkatsu in the underground shopping area called Porta next to Kyoto Station and had a great meal. Tonkatsu is one of those foods that i just can’t ever get enough of. Cue the obligatory food pic…

After dinner, I made a quick stop at the Lawson convenience store for some yogurt and orange juice, then it was back to the room. I was tired and wanted to get a much earlier start on the next day. Next up… a day in Osaka.

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