Japan 2016 Day 4: Kyoto

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Today we took the train from Tokyo to Kyoto. James was very excited to ride the Shinkansen, better known as a Bullet Train.  The plan was to get breakfast at the train station, but there were fewer options than expected.  We ended up settling on a fairly tasty bakery.  I ended up with a delicious pastry that was filled with curry.  A bit of a surprise, but very nice.

We made sure to get seats on the Mt. Fuji side, but unfortunately it was cloudy and visibility prevented us from getting to see it.

I also managed to get in a nice nap.  I have mixed feelings about our inflatable pillows.  It is fabulous in that it packs up to a tiny package that can slip into my backpack.  The unfortunate thing is that if I inflate it to the point that my neck doesn’t flop over, it puts pressure on my throat to the point that I sometimes feel nauseous.  But when I wake up, my neck doesn’t feel kinked up, so it’s a catch 22.

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On arrival to Kyoto, we stashed our luggage in one of the storage lockers in the main train station and took a bus into town.  We took a beautiful walk through some winding streets, stopping at the Kiyomizu Temple on the way.  The Koyasu Pagoda on the south side of the temple was particularly beautiful.

The fall colors were amazing!

We really like the classic Japanese pagodas, or tiered building.  They remind me of Jeremy’s somewhat silly obsession with obelisks.  You can ask the boys how far they have had to walk to get to some obelisks that he wanted to see.  I prefer the Japanese version.  Since Kyoto is considered the cultural capital of Japan, it is a good place to see many of the traditional buildings:

Since it was Japanese Thanksgiving, there were a lot of people out and about, wearing traditional Japanese dress.  Quite fun!  But some of the streets were quieter and less crowded than others:

We stopped at a noodle place in a park for lunch, then our wanderings took us by several temples, including the one shown below:

I particularly liked the gardens at the temple:

At this point, we went back to the train station to get our bags and took them to our apartment.  We were supposed to be staying in a very good location downtown.  Unfortunately there was a problem with the apartment and they had to move us elsewhere.  This was an Airbnb apartment during the time that Japan was cracking down on people that were running them without licenses, but this one was licensed, so this really shouldn’t have happened.  The new apartment was both a lot further from the center and a serious downgrade from what we had paid for, but since it was Japanese Thanksgiving, everything in the city was booked up, so we didn’t feel like we could cancel and rebook somewhere else.

After taking the train for a bit, we arrived at the apartment.  It was interesting.  We knew that “traditional style” meant that we would be sleeping on a mat on a tatami floor, but what we didn’t realize was that the mat would actually just be a comforter.  Even doubled over, it did not put much padding between us and the ground.  Fail!  By the end of the trip my back was so bad that I went back into physical therapy to get things under control.  If you plan to stay in traditional lodging, make sure you inquire into the thickness of the mat.  It can really be quite lovely if done right.  Otherwise, the apartment was better than the sleeping situation, but still not so great.  A tiny kitchen, a couple of bar stools, a bathroom with a ceiling that was six inches shorter than Jeremy, and not a lot else.  I’m sure the apartment we were planning to stay in would have had a real mat, more furnishing, a proper height in the bathroom, and more restaurant options.  Oh well, at least we weren’t homeless.  And the boys thought our indoor “camping” adventure was fabulous!

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