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Kibune is a small mountain village that runs parallel to the Kibune river, in the valley of the Mountains north of Kyoto. It is an incredibly beautiful place, especially during Spring, Summer and Autumn.
In the summertime, it’s fun to dress up in Kimono and stroll around the village. It does take a while to get there (around 45 mins to an hour from central Kyoto) by trains and busses. During the summer months, you can dine on platforms on the river (Kawadoko) that flows down the Valley (see photos below). It is quite expensive and the menus are set, they start from around 8000 yen to 15,000 yen. You can also stay in some nice Ryokans in the village. They are very beautiful, very traditional and a great way to experience Japanese hospitality (Omotenashi) in the mountains! More details on Ryokans in Kibune are further down this page.
The Village was originally built around the Kifune Shrine, which is a very pretty Shrine that is in parts along the village street.
Kifune Shrine is a shrine dedicated to the god of water and rain. The actual shrine is spread in three parts up the village road, the first part is the main section of the Shrine. My favourite part of the shrine is the Okunomiya part of the temple which is the middle part of the three. Legend has it that a very famous 10th-century poet, Shikibu Izumi, comes here to pray for the happiness of her marriage that isn’t going so well, writes Haiku (Japanese ancient poetry) and gets a response from the god of this shrine and after this, all goes well with her marriage. The theme of this shrine is ‘en musubi’ which means the connecting of destinies. Also at this shrine is a rock that looks exactly like the shape of a boat. The rock is now sacred. Boats metaphorically are representative of the vector that connects destinies. Now locals will come to this part of the shrine to pray for good relationships and marriage.
The start of the Kibune village. When I say village, it's basically a settlement and collection of restaurants and ryokans that are next to the river and road
As mentioned in the intro paragraph, these are the Kawadoko - the restaurants where you can eat on platforms over the river. These are only around during the summer.
The street has many beautiful Ryokans (Japanese inns), if you want a real authentic Japanese experience, I recommend staying at one of these. More info on that below in this page.
Main entrance 'Torii' (Gates) to the Kifune Shrine. Take some cool pics or selfies for the gram guys, Make sure its #lit
Feel free to drop a coin in the box, rattle the bell and have a little prayer for good health and love life!
A few hundred meters up from this part of Kifune shrine is ‘Aioi no Sugi’, which are two enormous Japanese cedar trees that share one root. This is also symbolic of an old couple who are connected at the roots and therefore have a healthy and prosperous long relationship. The area around here is absolutely stunning and I’d recommend taking a walk around here. In the summertime, it’s nice to take a dip in the river further up as the water is so clear and cold.
Aoi no Sugi, the two enormous cedar trees that share one Root. They are truly enormous. I'm just over 6 foot so you can see the scale!
One thing I highly recommend to do is to stay at one of the Ryokans here. Ryokans are traditional Japanese inns. You sleep in beautiful Japanese style rooms with Tatami floors, Shoji paper doors and stunning wooden architecture. The staff are all wearing Japanese kimonos and the service is incredible. Also in this area are a few natural hot springs. Most Ryokans will have a communal Male and Female onsen area where you can bathe in large hot baths. Some are supplied by natural spring water from below the earth's surface. The Ryokans here all have hot spring baths. Prices are quite high (the same as 4-star hotels approx) but it is an amazing experience. A real essence of Japanese hospitality (omotenashi).
Click below to explore Ryokans in Kibune