So... Japan is like 70% mountainous and this combined with their belief in the sacred nature of mountains(kami living in them, shugendo, etc) leads to an abundance of shrines and temples almost everywhere you look. I'm not that big on the outdoors, but I've been hiking up a lot of mountains recently! In late February I took a trip with my friend Coco to Kurama-yama, which is a bit out of the way near Kyoto. It was snowing quite a lot! I was excited to discover that the mountain is famous for its tengu shrine. Tengu are creatures with either crow beaks or long noses which are believed to live in the mountains and transform into priests, tricking those passing by in search of directions.
The hike was fairly long, and at the end we were exhausted. Luckily the entire area is located on one street, and at the end of it was an onsen. This was my first experience at an onsen(a public bath/hot spring) and I was a bit confused at first. I was on my own since Coco went to the men's section, and I had literally no idea what to do. I ended up asking a random woman where to undress. If you're not comfortably being naked around people, or being surrounded by naked people, I would suggest not visiting one. However, I had a great time! It was cold and snowing, but somehow the outside bath was still piping hot. It was so nice to sit back and relax in the hot water in the middle of the mountain whilst watching the snow fall. I hope to visit a few more onsen during my stay!