Another positive: there most likely won’t be many tourists if you visit during the daytime, which is much welcomed after spending a few days in Kyoto. Some of Kyoto’s major sites are swarming with tourists, especially in the spring, and the crowds can become a bit overwhelming. Wandering aimlessly through Kurama without seeing or hearing a soul in sight will certainly restore your sanity and help you remember why you are on vacation: to relax.
Tip: Perhaps the best time to visit is when it is raining. It started raining on my fourth day in Kyoto. I had seen practically everything I wanted to see and I did not want to stay inside to look at museums or drink coffee all day. I can say without hesitation that going to Kurama is the most memorable day of my nine-day trip in Japan. The entire forest comes alive in the rain. I can’t imagine it looking as dramatic or having the otherworldly feel it had on a sunny, crisp day. It’s one of those places where bad weather actually enhances, not diminishes, its beauty.
How to get there: take the Eiden Eizan line from Kyoto. You can get this train from Sanjo Station or Demachi Yanagi Station in the northeast of Kyoto.
Time to Go: Early on a weekday morning when locals are at work and other tourists are still getting out of bed (probably the best time to do anything, anywhere). I went at 10am and I didn’t see anyone, but I cannot say whether or not the rain discouraged any tourists or hikers that morning who would have normally visited.
Affordability: Very affordable. I’d give an exact price but it depends on what train station you depart from to get there. The admission fee is ¥200.
What to bring: FOOD. I couldn’t find a single convenience store or restaurant when I visited. I was quite hungry as well and I remember looking hard for either. Wandering around to find one is an option, but time is better well spent. The only food you will readily find are some ice cream snacks in the station vending machine.