We said goodbye to the slippers:
The complimentary pjs:
And Tokyo after spending two luxurious nights and hopped on the bullet train to start our journey down to Kyoto, Hiroshima and Osaka.
Well, before we took the bullet train, I needed to go and pick up our rail passes from the train station by handing over the vouchers I’d pre-purchased in Australia. The rail passes gave us 7 days of unlimited travel on JR trains including local trains, certain bullet trains, JR buses and the JR ferry to Miyajima for just over $300 each. Considering that just a return trip to Kyoto from Tokyo on the bullet train costs that much, it’s a great buy.
In my enthusiasm for buying cheap flights, I’d not realised that we would be travelling during the spring school holidays meaning that everything was crowded and the trains were full. I’d wisely elected to get on the bullet train at the first station, Tokyo rather than getting on at the second but slightly closer station, Shinagawa. Fifteen minutes before our train was due, there was already quite a line for the unreserved seats:
But we snagged some seats and settled in for the two-hour journey. It was standing room only after the second stop and M was amazed that you wouldn’t be guaranteed a seat on a train travelling at 300km/hr and that you’d spent considerable money on a ticket for. I wondered how he’d like riding on the bullet train during a real peak season when capacity is at 400%…
I’d called into a convenience store at the station to get some brekky for the journey:
M wanted coffee so I grabbed him…Starbucks!
So we sat back and watched the scenery flash by, feeling all the while like we were on a plane:
We arrived at Kyoto station and headed for the taxi line. We could have taken a bus, but I decided with our luggage it would be easier to just hop in a taxi. Silly me had packed the address of the hotel in my bag in the boot of the car, and because it was a new hotel, the driver didn’t know exactly where it was. Anyway, after driving around for a while, we finally found it and headed in to drop our luggage off as it was still before check-in time.
We stayed at the Super Hotel in Shijo Kawaramachi. M gave me full points for location as it was slap-bang in the middle of the major shopping district with everything by the door and multiple train and bus connections, but I had serious point deductions for the size of the room and especially the size of the bathroom. But for $100 per night for the two of us and breakfast included, it was very reasonable for Kyoto accommodation.
I’d booked us into a ‘super room’ which was the largest room – a whole 13 square metres – with a double bed and a fold out lounge that doubled as another bed for four nights.
The bathroom was….compact…for one not used to such things. I’d experienced plenty of these unit bathrooms and several of my apartments had only slightly bigger bathrooms, but the 1m x 1.2m bathroom was a bit of a shock for M (he was happy about the electronic toilet, but not so happy about his knee getting lodged against the wall every time he tried to sit down on it):
In the lobby there were public baths, 3 free computers for the internet, a whole selection of different types of pillows, pjs, a whole area filled with maps, guides books and other handy stuff and the breakfast area with ovens where they baked fresh bread and pastries everyday.
They keep costs down by having few staff, automating the check-in and check-out with machines, requiring guests to stay out of the hotel between 11am and 3pm for cleaning and obviously having lots of small rooms and basic furnishings.
I’d planned to head straight out for some serious sightseeing, but seeing that it was raining….again…M decided he just wanted to have a look around the vicinity and then chill.
Our first stop was for some lunch – conveyor belt sushi! Yay! After walking through the covered shopping arcade, we went to Kappa zushi.
It’s not the best or classiest sushi, but all plates are 90 yen at lunch time and 105 yen at other times, it’s got touch screens that you use to order:
And there’s a little bullet train that delivers your orders on a special track and a reasonably extensive menu of nigiri:
Most importantly it has my favourite type of sushi, tsubugai (like a whelp or sea snail) in abundance:
A few of the things we sampled included:
And M went for his prawn tempura:
And we kept washing everything down with the self-serve hot water dispenser and the green tea powder that you shake into your cup to make tea:
By the end we had a respectable stack of plates:
Then we wandered around the shopping area a bit more while M searched for sluts in boots (they were a dime a dozen) and I kept an eye out for things on my ‘I-want-to-eat list’, spotting this chestnut tart in a nearby coffee shop:
We went back to the hotel and M had a snooze and I soaked up some more Japanese tv. About 9pm we then went outside for another wander around the shopping area and I spotted mecca a.k.a Mister Donut:
Even though we were still full from our late sushi lunch, we went in for donuts and coffee because Mister Donut was also on my ‘I-want-to-eat’ list.
Just like a bakery, you grab a tray and tongs and help yourself to whatever goodies you want:
Being that it was quite late at night and close to closing time (they stay open until 11pm on weeknights) they didn’t have the full selection available, but I still got a few of my favourites like cream crueller, caramel chocolate crueller and pon de ring:
Yeah baby, they were good…You also get free refills of your coffee.
Then it was time to hit the sack (well, I actually watched a few more hours of Japanese tv while M snoozed) as tomorrow started our first full day of real sight-seeing.
Part 4 to come…