The Last of Kyoto and on to Tokyo
Trip Start Aug 11, 2010
21Trip End Sep 02, 2010
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Where I stayed
Tokyo International Hostel
I thought I might not have a lot to write today because
there wasn’t a lot of touristing
packed up this morning, left my bags at the ryokan, and went over to Kyoto
Station. I mailed out my Korea guide and
Mansfield Park and a whole bunch of paper souvenirs…I think I might have
mailed back part of my Mt Fuji travel tickets as well as notes on
accommodations for Tokyo and Mt Fuji.
The accommodation part is OK but I am not sure about the bus ride segment.
Anyway, after successfully negotiating the post office, I
went to the bus terminal to find the bus or buses going to Nijo Castle. Frommer’s said it would take 1 minute but it
was at least 10 stops. There was no
uphill walk to the castle so that was nice.
The guidebook mentions the wonderful garden by a famous designer but
maybe I am jaded by now, a lot of the others were more impressive to me. There was a substantial plum tree grove. The major garden had a central lake with lots
of rocks. Great rocks. Beautiful rocks but I thought it was a bit
busy and I probably shouldn’t talk.
What I was most impressed with here were the shogun’s
rooms. The wood was gorgeous: dark and lustrous. Huge timbers.
There were rice paper screens that let lots of light into the outer
hallways. In the halls of the different
buildings, there were different ceiling designs and beautiful paintings by a
master and his school. One room had
chrysanthemums, another eagles and other birds, others pine trees. I especially liked the rectangles in the
halls that were more abstract designs = like silk dress material maybe. The castle had a moat and stone walls with
huge blocks of stone. We could walk up
on one corner and there was a view of the Kyoto cityscape.
I don’t know if it was hotter today or the accumulated effects just wore
me down because I was totally enervated by the end of my walk around the
grounds. A quick trip to their little exhibition hall and the
souvenir shop for postcards and I was ready to head back to Kyoto Station.
I needed to get more cash before Tokyo and Fuji so I asked
at the Info Center so I wouldn’t waste time looking around. Where did I get sent: the Post Office. So back I went and then across the whole
station again to get to my ryokan to pick up my bags. I first checked to see where I would get the
train so I wouldn't have to mess around when I had all my bags. The ryokan manager gave me a glass of water as I headed out the door. It was a long sweaty walk to the train
gate. He must have anticipated that I would definitely need that water. It was a lovely gesture. I don’t know how the Japanese
people manage to look so crisp in this heat – THEY don’t have huge wet
splotches on THEIR clothes.
The trains are managed amazingly efficiently. There was a sign with time, numbers, and
tracks. I was used to that. But once I got to the track, there were signs
for the train car number above the track and little markings where you should
stand in line waiting for your car. I
found my seat. I was happy it was a
window seat. This was a Shinkansen train
– a bullet train but I think it looks more like a porpoise train. It sped along until we left Kyoto
city. The suburbs look more like I
imagined Japan would look – very neat and tidy.
The were kelly green rice fields along
the tracks in a lot of places. We
went through several large urban areas and suburbs, some industrial areas. I think the newer buildings can look tidier
because they don’t have all that ugly retrofitting – wiring and a/c. I fell asleep during the first half of the
ride, then I got some seatmates toward the end.
They pulled out some snacks and I thought there was a problem with the
toilets at the end of the car. I am
still not quite sure but the toilets seemed to smell OK. It might have been their snacks.
We pulled into Tokyo Central Station….I have no idea how
many there are, but I think too many for me to manage. I got a taxi to my hostel….. It was hard enough for me to find
the right place to get in line for the taxis.
The taxis here all use GPS. My
driver couldn’t figure out what I was telling him about hostel vs hotel but
when he put in the phone number from Frommer’s, he found the address. He was so nice, when we stopped in front of a
big high-rise, he went to check that it was the right place. I checked into the hostel, found out the
rules, got my sheets and some instructions on how to get to the bus station
tomorrow morning that I think I had better scrap if I really plan to get there.
After putting the sheets on my bed in the 8-bunk room – I think
there are only 4 of us though – and packing up for tomorrow, I went to
eat. I thought carbo loading would be
appropriate so I stopped at a noodle place and pointed to one of the menu
entries. I got noodle soup, stuffed
dumplings and rice. Now that is carbo
loading! I had some difficulty eating
because the waitress stopped to chat with me and practice her English. She is Chinese studying economics in Japan
and works 7 days a week and is ready for her vacation. A quick shower and here I am jotting down the
events of the day. I tried the internet
but I couldn’t get it to work. They have a whole
bunch of complicated instructions, but I need to get to sleep rather early so
I’ll pass on them tonight. Maybe day after
tomorrow when I am back from Fuji-san.