Fine dining in this tranquil forest getaway.
Tucked in the northern mountains of Kyoto lies the village of Kibune, home to Kibune shrine, numerous ryokan, and forests filled with cedars. It is most popular to visit this area in August, as the mountains offer a cool respite from the city heat, or in fall to see the exceptional foliage.
From June to September, many of the local ryokan and restaurants offer luxurious kaiseki meals on decks called kawadoko built directly over the rushing Kibune river that runs through the town. Eating above the flowing water is a serene experience unique to the area. Some restaurants even specialize in dishes featuring fish caught from the water below. Prices range from 3000 to 20,000 yen per person for a meal, and it’s best to reserve ahead of time.
Kibune shrine (also known as Kifune, its original name,) is accessible from the main road. Follow the oft-photographed stairs lined with red lanterns to get to the main shrine. It is dedicated to the god of water – legend has it that a goddess came to Kibune on a yellow boat (hence the name kibune) and the shrine sits where she came to rest. Because of this, those in the food industry often visit the shrine for good luck and prosperity in their business.
For 200 yen, you can purchase a paper omikuji on which your fortune magically appears in kanji when you place it on the surface of the shrine’s fountain. Don’t worry – it comes with a QR code that allows you to listen to your fortune in the language of your choice through the magic of smartphone technology!
Okunomiya, the site of the original shrine, is a kilometer up the road. A large stone on the grounds is said to cover the remnants of the goddesses’ original yellow boat.