The Kyoto Trail Hike: Day 2

Kyoto Trail – Kitayama-East Day 2
Ohara to Kurama

After a delicious and substantial Japanese breakfast at our B&B and a pleasant chat with a friendly owner couple, we headed for Sanzen-In, another magnificent temple in Ohara.

Apparently, Sano-san had sore muscles from the previous’ day 10km hike and may be due to his general lack of training : -( Of course, he had no other choice than to tag along with me on this 2nd day.

The path went through a peaceful mountain village and along vegetable fields, finally leading to the temple.  The Sanzen-in temple is famous for its rustic moss garden and its adorable mossed stone Jizo. The temple has a huge compound and so we wandered around the garden for almost an hour.

It is a wonderful place where I could linger longer, but Sano-san reminded me that we have quite some distance to cover!

We left the temple, walked to the south end of the village and stood at today’s trailhead.  The first part of the trail was an asphalted road, but the area still had a tranquil country feeling.

After a narrow tunnel we came to another village and saw a small shrine, the Shizuhara Shrine. The shrine was in preparation for its New Year decoration. I prayed for our safe hike today.

Soon we entered into the rather dense forest with fallen trees everywhere. The recent typhoon made a significant impact here and made the place look quite ominous.  A part of yesterday’s path was however similar, so we did not worry too much.  We kept going, amazed by the disastrous power of mother nature, and suddenly the forest path came to a dead-end, completely blocked by fallen trees.

We knew that the pass was not far and we tried to brave through, making our way under and above the fallen trees.  After one hour of struggle the situation did not improve.  The path was invisible and utterly unpassable. We could not advance, it was too risky. We gave up and turned back.

Backtracking our path for 20 min or so, we came to the fork and we realised that we missed the Kyoto Trail signage earlier to turn sharp left!  We did not see it at all and just followed the forest path straight… Later, after consulting our map again, we figured that the wrong path we have taken was indeed a dead-end.

By this time we were full of mud and sweat. But our final destination Kurama was only 2km away and we just needed to go over one more pass.

The idea of taking a bus back to Kyoto came to our mind,  but I did want to reach Kurama.  We agreed to make an attempt for the last stretch.

The path toward the Yakkozaka Pass (薬王坂) was steep, but the trail was solid and good.  At the beginning of the slope several abandoned log cabins were scattered around in the dense and humid forest. It was rather spooky and I was happy not to be there alone.

In half an hour we reached the Yakkozaka Pass (375m) from where it went down straight to Kurama. It was a relief to see the village of Kurama full of tourists!

Luckily Kurama had a hot spring. By the time we got out of our well-deserved bath, clean and refreshed, we could laugh about our little adventure and mishap.

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