Hiking in Japan is always fun with family, and with summer subsiding, some of the best months for a mountain walk are around the corner. Japan offers countless choices in its vast mountain ranges, but one of my favorite family hikes is only 90 minutes north of Kyoto. The mountain villages of Kibune and Kurama reside in neighboring valleys. Connected by trail and stairway trails, these two towns offer a great day-trip getaway from the clamor of the city, and a taste of Japan's spectacular cultural and natural beauty.

It's possible to begin your walk from either village, but I prefer starting from Kibune and ending with a soak at Kurama Onsen, a hot spring (onsen) bath on the other side of the mountain. Another benefit of starting the hike from Kibune is the town's array of dining options. The main road has a number of restaurants serving soba, grilled river fish and other local dishes, but the most aesthetically pleasing options are the restaurants with kawadoko-style dining. Usually reserved for the hottest months, kawadoko seating is outdoor and on elevated platforms over the Kibune River. You can enjoy the sound of water rushing beneath them as you eat.

This is a beautiful and unique experience, but parents with young children should keep an eye out, as most platforms don't have a guardrail. The river isn't deep and the drop is small, so this isn't a life-or-death experience. That said, though, you won't want your child soaked to the bone, not matter how hot it is outside.