“Hey you!..... Hey you, wha-t’s your Name?”
This is the song that some older Japanese guy is singing on tv as I write up today’s blog. It seems to be some special show recognizing two older performers. It’s fun to watch despite the fact we really don’t know what’s going on.
Today was a traveling day since we went from Tokyo to Kyoto. Both of us ended up waking up really early and use the time to get laundry done and packed up. The only problem was it took a while to dry the clothes. Once that was done we were on our way to Tokyo Station. The Sumisho Ryokan was a very nice place with a very helpful and friendly staff. Most of them had some English and were able to help us out whenever we had a question. If you ever stay in Tokyo, I would recommend this ryokan. Only downside is that for some reason the room smelled of cat. One thing I would add is that they wet the entrance. Apparently this is a sign of welcome in Japan for inns.
We took a taxi to Tokyo Station and waited for the Shinkansen (aka Bullet Train) to go to Kyoto. They have a time table booklet that shows what time the trains arrive and which ones to take. In the station we need to go to the particular area for the Shinkansen trains. We were able to see the Nozomi trains, which are the fastest of the Shinkansen, but they are expensive to go on. We took the Hikaru 409 train. The Japanese are very efficient. In all the train stations, there are clearly marked lines that show where people should line up. So you know which door you are suppose to go into and there is no pushing or shoving. You just get in line and wait. It’s very nice. Another thing I noticed about Japanese efficiency is cleaning the train. If it is the last stop for the train, these ladies in pink uniforms line up in front of the train. They are the cleaning crew. Once the last person from the train departs, the pink ladies get on and begin cleaning. In the case for our train they actually turned the seat around since the train would be going back the way it came in. They were very quick. Once they were all done, we were able to get on. While we were waiting for the train I was trying to get pictures of them. They went so fast I needed to put it onto the speed shutter! Here is a picture of the Nozomi Shinkansen.
The train ride was about 3 hours. During the ride, there is a lady with cart of food that comes around. Thomas and I got bento boxes for a late breakfast/early lunch. The ride was quick and gave us some time to rest up. There were a couple of stops along the way and there were several business people aboard. This is also one of the first times where I really saw a lot of tourists. Once we arrived in Kyoto we quickly made it to our ryokan. Well as quickly as we could with our luggage.
Fortunately, the ryokan is only 2 blocks away from the station. Compared to what we walked in Tokyo, this was a piece of cake. We’re staying at the Heinabo Ryokan. It’s this nice red little two story place. We got to it early and the ryokan owner, Okami (Japanese word for landlady) let us check in early. She is really nice and gave us a lot of helpful information with the little English knowledge she has. I will say the family who runs this place is very courteous and helpful. To get to our room we first had to take off our shoes at the entrance and switch to slippers.
Then we walked through a little hallway that led to a little bridge and garden. It connects to the other building which has all the rooms. We walked up a flight of stairs (which are very narrow) and to our room. It’s a door with a little window on it and it leads to the entry way. This is the area where we take off our slippers. There is a little closet to hang some of our things and it holds our towels and yukatas (Japanese cotton robes, kind of like a kimono). Then there is a screen door that opens into our room. Each room has it own air-conditioning unit that we can control.
There were two futons folded up on the 6 tatami mat room. There is a little alcove that has the tv, mini-fridge and a shelf with different decorative pieces on top. Below are two paper screens that open to a window. Beside that is a screen that leads to the bathroom. Thomas can actually stand in this one with no problems! This place is very traditional and very quaint. The room also feels like our own mini apartment in Japan. There are also many other tourists here of the English speaking variety. They also have two kitties. Here is the one that greeted us.
After settling and relaxing we decided to head out and explore. Our first stop was to go back to Kyoto Station. Needless to say, this was Thomas’ favorite part. We took so many photos that we’ll just entitle it “Thesis”. The building had many elements that were part of his thesis. It’s an amazing piece of architecture and had such a large open space. There were at the minimum 11 floors and you could see the people just keep going up in one fluid line, so to speak. We spent a fair amount of time there before heading out and checking out some of the other sites.
The great thing about Kyoto is the number of places to visit within small distances. In just a 4 block radius there are two famous temples/shrines. We did a quick walk around to see them, but will go back when the places are open.
One of them is under renovations, but more about that the next time we visit. We stopped back at the hotel for a little bit to rest up and figure out our plans for the rest of the evening and the next 2 days.
We headed back to Kyoto Station for some dinner. There are restaurants on almost all the floors and 2-3 of them are nothing but food. We decided to eat Aoi-jaya, a place for Japanese cuisine. Each meal was composed of many smaller dishes. It was very nice and a great way to end the day. Afterwards we headed back to the hotel for some rest for a full day of sightseeing. That’s it for today. Well, except…
Happy Fourth of July!