The exciting Fire Festival of Kurama. Kurama-dera, a temple designated to protect the northern part of Kyoto.
Kurama is located in the central to western part of Sakyo-ku in Kyoto City. It thrived as a temple town for Kurama-dera Temple, as well as a post town for travelers along the Kurama Highway that connected Kyoto and Wakasa. Kurama-dera Temple was founded in the Nara Period, during the 8th century. During the 9th century, the Emperor designated it as the temple giving protection to the northern part of the country's then capital, a duty which it still performs today.
Kurama-dera Temple has an approach way that runs for about one kilometer from the San-mon Gate to the main temple. You can take a cable car to Taho-to Tower, halfway up the mountain. The Takekiri-eshiki (bamboo-cutting ceremony), held each year in early summer, is a ceremony where priests compete by using hatchets to cut four pieces of bamboo, representing large snakes, in front of the main temple, a ritual which is said to forecast whether the harvest will be good or bad that year.
Along the approach to the temple is Yuki-jinja Shrine, which sits on a winding slope called Tsuzuraori. This shrine is famous for the Kurama Fire Festival held in fall, where the residents of Kurama parade through the area with torches, one of three particularly curious festivals of Kyoto.
Along the Kurama Highway you will find the preserved homes of common people from the 17th century, as well as the Kurama-onsen Hot Spring with its natural sulfurous water.
[Rail] 2h 15 min to Kyoto Station by JR Tokaido Shinkansen Line 'Nozomi,' or 2h 45 min by 'Hikari.' 20 min from Kyoto via Tofuku-ji (JR Nara Line) to Demachiyanagi Station by Keihan Line. 30 min from Demachiyanagi to Kurama Station by Eizan Dentetsu Kurama Line.
[Rail] 28 min to Kyoto Station by JR Tokaido Line (new rapid service).