Ancient mountain sanctuary with esoteric traditions

Photo of Kurama, Japan (Kurama by Yiannis Theologos Michellis)

Nestled in the northern mountains of Kyoto, Kurama is a place of spiritual significance and natural beauty, known for its ancient temple linked to esoteric Buddhism, and surrounded by lush forests.

About Kurama

Kurama, a rural area in the mountains north of Kyoto, is deeply intertwined with the spiritual history of the region. Its most notable landmark, Kuramadera Temple, is a significant site founded with the enshrinement of the deity Bishamonten in 770 A.D. The temple is associated with the Tendai sect of Buddhism and is known for its esoteric practices.

The founding of the temple is attributed to the monk Gantei following his vision of the Bodhisattva Mañjuśrī. Kuramadera has since been a center for various Buddhist rituals, particularly esoteric practices seeking enlightenment.

Known for the Kurama Fire Festival (Kurama no Hi Matsuri) on October 22nd, this event features processions with large, lit torches, symbolizing the warding off of evil spirits and has been a part of the area’s cultural heritage for centuries.

Today, Kurama offers a retreat from Kyoto’s city life. Visitors can hike through the mountain path to the temple, often finding the journey spiritually uplifting. Also noteworthy is the Yuki Jinja shrine, a Shinto shrine integral to the Shinto-Buddhist religious mix characteristic of the area.

The Kurama Onsen, with its therapeutic hot springs, was previously a much loved day-trip from Kyoto. Unfortunately it closed during COVID-19 and has remained closed since.

Kurama’s significance reaches beyond its locale, continuing to be a spiritual haven for visitors.

Upcoming Events what's happening around Kurama

🌸 Cherry Blossom Predictions
Thursday, 21 March - Saturday, 13 April 2024 (predicted)

Cherry blossoms (sakura) started blooming in Hiroshima on March 25, 2024, and are expected to reach their peak around April 1, 2024. In the Kansai region, including Kyoto and Himeji, blossoms are expected to start around March 28, 2024, with Osaka and Nara following shortly after, beginning on March 31 and March 30, respectively.

Petals typically fall within about 1 week of the full bloom unless the weather causes them to drop earlier.

For more information, see our complete Cherry Blossom Predictions 2024 guide.

Updated 29 Mar 2024
Event listings are sourced from public information, and may be incorrect or outdated. Always consult the official website for full details.

Around Kurama

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