Fully Bloomed Cherry Blossom At Kurama-dera Temple, Kyoto In April

This article is about my trip to Kurama-dera Temple in Kyoto. The temple is on Mount Kurama. Seeing beautiful cherry blossom and having Japanese traditional sweets...it was wonderful day!

On 13 April, I was thinking to take one day trip to somewhere in Kyoto. I checked the paper (in the spring, the Japanese papers have the cherry blossom forecast) and was noticed that it was a little too late to see fully bloomed cherry blossom in most locations in middle of April in Kyoto. Damn!

There are only few locations available to see fully bloomed cherry blossom such as Ninna-ji Temple and Sanzen-in Temple...but both are far from home and I wasn’t in the mood switching trains and buses to get there.

Then, I found that Kurama-dera Temple still has bloomed cherry blossom… I decided taking a day trip to the temple!

About Mount Kurama

What Is Mount Kurama?

Kurama area is in Sakyo-ku, Kyoto, which has Kurama-dera Temple. The temple recognize the whole mountain (Mt. Kurama) as its precinct. The temple is located on top of the mounrain, so cherry blossom blooms later than most locations. This is why Kurama-dera Temple still has beautiful cherry blossoms in the middle of April! I recommend you to visit the temple to see fantastic fully bloomed cherry blossoms if you visit Kyoto in April.

Also, Kisen Shrine is in the area which worships the god of water. Other shrines and luxurious Japanese traditional restaurants are located along the valley.

Kurama Tengu

Look at the huge statue! This is the Japanese legendary creature called Tengu. This supernatural-being has red face and long nose. In Japanese folklore, Tengu flies in the air and has misterious power over nature. The story tells Kurama Tengu lives somewhere in Mount Kurama.

Let’s Trek (Or Take A Cable Car)!

The Ways To Get To The Temple

To get to the shrine, you can choose trekking to the top of the mountain or taking a cable car. I decided to trek to the top this time, so say bye-bye to the fancy heels for now!

Before trekking, I need to have something in my stomach…!

Sansho-mochi From Sansan-dou

Sansan-dou sells Japanese traditional confectionery, and is located by Eizan Electric Railway Kurama Station. Their signature confectionery is a sticky rice cake with Japanese pepper called Sansho-mochi.

Sansho (Japanese pepper) is often used in Japanese and Chinese dishes, but who expects pepper in the confectionery? Sansho is in Mochi (sticky rice cake) and Mochi wraps Anko (sweet red bean paste) in it.

It has very rich flavour of Sansho…!!

I looked some reviewing websites about Sansho-mochi before I visited Sansan-dou and most people reviewed Sansho-mochi is beyond wonderful. Hmm, it was good, but the comments on the website were a bit effusive…

Well anyway, not so many confectioneries sell sweets made with pepper, so it can be a unique food experience.

Taking Steps To The Top!

Alright, then, let’s start trekking!

Well, did I say trekking? ...It is not trekking you think, I bet! Basically the trail is well maintained. The trail even has beautiful stone stairways and lanterns equipped. Aren’t they beautiful?

Fully bloomed cherry blossoms are welcoming the visitors...

Walking on the slope...

I found the monument having words “Mao-no Hi” which means “the monument of the satan.” The temple has unique and weird stuff like this monument...

Yuki Jinja In Mt. Kurama

As I mentioned, Kurama-dera Temple recognize whole Mt. Kurama as its sacred land, but the mountain has a shrine called Yuki Jinja as well. This shrine is famous for its annual event called the Kurama Fire Festival.

The shrine is surrounded by three huge sacred Japanese cedars.

This is Kawakami Jizo Hall. Jizo is often called as O-jizo-san with affection, and is the gardian deity of children, travellers, etc.

The tower is built for Minamoto-no Yoshitune’s soul. He is very famous Samurai.

Minamoto-no Yoshitsune Who Grew Up In The Temple

Minamoto-no Yoshitsune is a younger brother of Minamoto-no Yoritomo. Yoritomo started Kamakura Shogunate with few followers. Yoshitsune supported his older brother Yoritomo quite well, but it made Yoritomo wrapped himself in suspicion that his brother would kill him. Yoritomo was simply jealous of Yoshitsune’s strength and was in fear of it. Yoritomo chased Yoshitusne away then Yoshitsune commited suicide at the end. This tragic story makes people believe Yoshitsune as a mighty-but-tragic hero. Yoshitsune is one of the most popular Samurai in Japan but who knows how he really was? hahaha… Yoshitsune’s story is often used in Kabuki, so his tragic story we know may be way too dramatic...

More Slopes!

Re-start walking to the top~

Whew...this is only half of the way!

Ughhhh my legs are getting tired… X(

I see a building on top of the stairways…!

This is the rest house. Got some water and took some rest...

Oh, I think I see the main building of Kurama-dera Shrine from here! Well decorated by beautiful cherry blossoms!

Arriving To The Top

I visited the temple just in time! Fully bloomed cherry blossoms are all over the temple♪

The time cherry blossoms are bloomed is very short, so I was lucky to be here seeing them today!

Red building with pink flowers… The scenery looks wonderful, isn’t it?

Cherry blossoms are everywhere~♪

I am glad that I made it here today!

Enjoyed seeing them much, it is time to go home...

There’s an another path called Kinone-michi which has tree roots covering the path. The atmosphere in the path is mysterious… I was a bit scared going there by myself, so I decided not going this time.

Instead, I took closer look on cherry blossoms around the main building.

This is my favourite place to adore cherry blossoms!

Looking down and seeing the beautiful cherry blossoms!

Let’s go back to the rest house to grab some lunch!

I bought some Onigiri (rice ball) at the store before taking Eizan Electric Train. They were in my purse whole time so their shape are not so pretty...but they were OH so tasty!

Taking A Cable Car

I took a cable car to go back to the bottom.

Walking Towards The Cable Car Station

I found more cherry blossoms on the way to the station! I wouldn’t see them if I didn’t take the cable car… I am satisfied with my decision!

These are different kind of cherry blossoms called Yae-zakura. It blooms later than the other cherry blossoms, so it wasn’t fully bloomed yet.

This is the ticket for the cable car. Looks like a leaf...

I am more than glad that I could see much more cherry blossoms than I thought I could.

To be honest, I never knew Kurama-dera Temple gets such a beautiful scenery with cherry blossoms in spring…!

Souvenir Hunt!

I got Ushiwaka-mochi from the confectionery shop called Tamon-dou for my family. Ushiwaka is Minamoto-no Yoshitsune’s childhood name.

Tamon-dou is just across the street from Sansan-dou (where I got Sansho-mochi). I actually prefer Ushiwaka-mochi. It is very simple but tasty!

Both Sansan-dou and Tamon-dou sell their confectionery at the reasonable price. Sansho-mochi is 110 yen each and Ushiwaka-mochi is 120 yen each.

I walked by at the Sansan-dou on my way home around 12:30pm, Sansho-mochi was all sold out. If you are interested, I recommend you to visit the confectionery in the morning.

Whew...it was relaxing and so enjoyable!

If you are coming to Japan to see cherry blossoms in mid April, I strongly recommend to visit Kurama-dera Temple!

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Written by Yumiko Takahashi

I stroll all over Kyoto every weekend, cause I'm deeply fascinated by Kyoto. I write my blog as I follow my feeling.