Mt. Kurama (鞍馬山)

Mt. Kurama is located in Sakyo Ward, Kyoto City, Kyoto Prefecture. Its altitude is 584 m. It is located between Kurama-gawa River and Kibune-gawa River, with its ridge extending in the north-south direction.

It is known as a place for mountain worship, and flourished as a place for Mikkyo (esoteric Buddhism) centered religious experience/training. In 796 or 770, Kurama-dera Temple was established in the middle of the south slope of Mt. Kurama, with Bishamonten (Vaisravana) as the honzon (principal object of worship at a temple). It is also the place where Ushiwakamaru (later MINAMOTO no Yoshitsune) trained, and therefore, he is also known as 'Kurama Tengu' (a long-nosed goblin). From ancient times, this place is also known as a beauty spot for cherry blossoms in the spring and for autumn leaves in the fall. Sights from Mt. Kurama in the spring and autumn are portrayed in 'Sarashina Nikki' (Sarashina Diary) as well.

The origin
Some say that the old name of Mt. Kurama was Mt. Kurabu. According to this, 'Kurabu,' the pronunciation of '暗部(闇部)' which means a dark part, changed into 'Kurama' (鞍馬).

Each 'Kurabu-yama' (Mt. Kurabu) and 'Kurama-yama' (Mt. Kurama) is an utamakura (a place name often used in ancient Japanese poems). In many books concerning poetry, such as 'Waka Shogakusho' (basics of Japanese "waka" poetry) and 'Godaishu Utamakura,' it is said that 'Kurabu-yama' (Mt. Kurabu) is located in Yamashiro Province, but its exact location is not identified. In these books on poetry, 'Kurabu-yama' and 'Kurama-yama' are handled as different utamakura. ARIWARA no Motokata and KI no Tsurayuki composed poems with 'Kurabu-yama' used as an utamakura, and are included in 'Kokin Wakashu' (the first anthology of Japanese poetry compiled by Imperial command). Similarly, poets, such as Anpo Hoshi, composed poems using 'Kurama-yama' as an utamakura, and are included in 'Shui Wakashu' (the third anthology of Japanese poetry compiled by Imperial command). As described above, Mt. Kurabu and Mt. Kurama are identified as two different mountains in Japanese Waka poetry.

When paying attention to Mt. Kurabu as an area name in modern times, it is said in 'Miyako-kagetsu-meisho' (Beauty spots of cherry blossom and moon-viewing) that Mt. Kurabu indicates Mt. Kurama, but it is also said in 'Miyako-meisho-ezu' (Pictures of beauty spots in the capital) and in 'Yamashiro-meisho-shi' (books describing various aspects of Yamashiro Province) that Mt. Kurabu indicates Mt. Kibune located in the west side of Mt. Kurama. In 'Yoshu-shoshi' (another book describing various aspects of Yamashiro Province), it holds first that Mt. Kurabu indicates Mt. Kibune, but it also offers another opinion that Mt. Kurama is Mt. Kurabu. Because of these contradictions, it cannot be definitively said that Mt. Kurabu indicates Mt. Kurama.

Relations with Kurama-dera Temple
It is said that the present honzon of Kurama-dera Temple or Sanat Kumara descended to this mountain. Since Kurama-dera Temple and Mt. Kurama are closely related, it sometimes happens that Mt. Kurama is used to indicate Kurama-dera Temple.

Kurama Line of Eizan Electric Railway
Kuramayama Kosaku Tetsudo Cable
Buses by Kyoto Bus

Kurama-dera Temple
Yuki-jinja Shrine
Kamo-gawa River (Yodo-gawa River system)

[Original Japanese]