Mount Kurama Cable Railway (鞍馬山鋼索鉄道)

The Mount Kurama Cable Railway is a funicular line operated for the convenience of visitors to the area by Kurama-dera Temple, which is a religious corporation and a famous temple located in the Rakuhoku area of Sakyo Ward, Kyoto City, Kyoto Prefecture.

Of all the railways that have been granted permission to operate under the Railway Business Act, it is the only one that is operated by a religious corporation, and it is also the shortest in distance. As it has only a single track, it is not equipped for two-way transportation. Many of the railway's employees, including the crew and the ticket agents, wear samue (work clothes worn by Buddhist priests).

Railway data

Track length (operating distance): 207 meters (0.2 km)
Track gauge: 800 mm
Number of stations: 2 (including the starting and terminal station)
Elevation difference: 96 meters


During the off season, the funicular runs every 15 minutes, departing from Sanmon Station at 10, 25, 40 and 55 minutes past every hour. It leaves Tahoto Station three minutes later. It takes about two minutes to cover the distance. The first service leaves Sanmon Station at 8:18, and the last one leaves Tahoto Station at 16:50 or, from June to August, at 17:20. During the high season, the funicular shuttles between the two stations, but its capacity sometimes forces some passengers to wait a considerable time.

Rolling stock

The current, third generation rolling stock was manufactured in 1996, and is nicknamed 'Ushiwaka-go Ⅲ' after MINAMOTO no Yoshitsune, whose childhood name was Ushiwakamaru and who studied at Kurama-dera Temple.

Capacity: 31people (but in fact only carries 28)
Design & construction of the track & control system: Anzen Sakudo Co., Ltd. (1996)
Rolling stock manufacturer: Osaka Sharyo Kogyo Co., Ltd. (1996)

A single car, counterbalanced by a weight, runs on rubber wheels on an 800 mm gauge track and, since the removal of the overhead wire, electricity (which is needed for the headlights, the announcements, lights within the car and the windshield wipers but not for locomotion) is provided alongside the track, similar to monorails and new transit systems. When the line first opened, the track gauge was 762 mm, with two steel-wheeled cars counterbalancing each other. For the second generation, a single rubber-wheeled car counterbalanced by a weight was introduced.. However it was still provided with electricity from an overhead wire.


Of all the railways that have been granted permission to operate under the Railway Business Act, this is the only one that is free of charge (though in the past, Minoo Funicular Railway was also free). However, the fare is only free when people donate at least \100 to the maintenance costs of the temple and the shrine on Mount Kurama, so the donation can be said to be the fare. This method is used because a 'fare' is taxed, even when earned by a religious institution, while a 'donation' is not. The donation-cum-fare of just \100, and the \200 'aizanryo' admission fee of Kurama-dera Temple (free for junior high school students and under) can be said to be quite reasonable.

A one-way ticket, which is in fact a 'petal-shaped memorial,' is received for a donation of \100 at the reception (which is in effect the ticket office). Thank you for your cooperation in sharing in the maintenance costs of the temple, shrine and other facilities on Mt. Kurama. In return, we'd like to offer you this one-way ticket.
Please show this petal-shaped ticket to the receptionist and board the car,'
says the ticket that is shaped like a petal of a lotus flower, with perforations in the lower part to separate the stub.

However, the temple recommends visitors, if they can, to walk the approach instead of getting on the funicular railway. The reason being that, by walking in nature, they will be able to feel more strongly the 'Sonten,' the source of nature's power, which is worshiped as the main Buddhist image of Kurama-dera Temple.


January 1, 1957: The funicular railway began operating between Sanmon Station and Tahoto Station.

1975: The second generation rolling stock came into service.

August 8, 1996: The third generation of rolling stock was introduced. It runs on rubber wheels.

List of stations

Sanmon Station
A Buddhist structure, completed in 1992 and called 'Fumyoden,' serves as the station.

Tahoto Station
A Buddhist structure called 'Tahoto-Reido,' that was built when the funicular railroad started operating, serves as the station.


Sanmon Station is about 5 minutes on foot from Kurama Station on the Kurama Line, operated by Eizan Electric Railway Co., Ltd.

[Original Japanese]