Kibune is a small town in a forested valley in the northern mountains of Kyoto, which was developed around Kibune Shrine. I first heard about Kibune as a place where you could dine in the forest directly on top of a waterfall! But the arriving in Kibune itself, the town was far more beautiful than I could have imagined!
From June to September, Kibune’s restaurants build covered platforms out over the river where you can enjoy a meal as the water flows beneath you. Known as kawadoko, dining on platforms is a relaxing experience and an excellent way to escape the summer heat. The trees and shade combined with the breeze from the river makes Kibune a beautiful place to cool down. The restaurants serve kaiseki meals which is a traditional multi-course meal. Having a meal here can be very expensive, ranging in price from 3,000 to 20,000 Yen per person. Reservations are definitely needed, as the popular restaurants are quick to fill up.
If you don’t want to come for a meal you can walk around the town and visit the Kibune Shrine. In summer it is extremely hot and humid here, so be prepared if you have to wait in the sun or if you want to walk around the shrine. Kibune is not a giant touist attraction to Western tourists and therefore it is a little more authentically Japanese. You should expect less English here and more of the real Japan.
Kibune is connected with central Kyoto by the unique Eizan Railway, which leaves from Demachi-Yanagi Station. To get there from Kyoto Station you can take the JR Nara Line to Tofukuji Station, where you tramsfer to the Keihan Main Line to Demachi-Yanagi Station. The journey from Demachi-Yanagi Station to Kibune-guchi Station then takes 30 minutes and costs 420 Yen, with trains departing every 15 to 20 minutes. After arriving at Kibune-guchi Station you can jump on a bus for a 5 minute ride to the town, or it’s about 20 to 30 minutes by walk.