Saturday, December 30, 2017
30 minutes north of Kyoto via an electric rail line, the quiet village of Kurama feels a world apart from the city. Set amid a cedar forest, it's famous for its Buddhist temple, Kurama-dera, which is reached by a 1.2-km uphill hike that justifies a long soak in the onsen afterward. This is essential Japan, in my mind, the kind of can't-miss experience that makes coming to Japan worthwhile. But as with most things here, it's a solitary sort of thing unless you seek out human interaction. People are friendly enough, and they'll certainly acknowledge your presence with a smile and a nod, but they're not going to engage with you unless you start the conversation. I did, and I enjoyed it every time...even when we had little language in common.