Posts Tagged diary
7.56AM, Kyoto – I went to bed around half eleven and still woke at 5.30AM. I talked on Skype with Sean for an hour which was fun – seems like England is plodding on without me. I’ve checked what my tour is doing tomorrow and have planned around that to avoid overlap.
8.27AM, Kyoto Subway Station – I’m heading to North Kyoto on the underground for some temples and will then trackback and do the market and museum in central Kyoto before finishing with a shrine south of the station.
1.02PM, AltreTanto Italian Cafe – You can’t take the Italian out of me, no matter where I go, I’ve got to have it. What’s nice is it’s a meal with a knife and fork! I’ve gone for pizza – it’ll be interesting to see the Japanese take on it. This morning I started with a collection of zen stone garden temples. From there I walked a couple miles to a shrine with a fantastic view over Tokyo – I had a chat with a teenage couple who were pleased to practice their English. After that I walked five miles to another shrine along the river. It wasn’t amazing, but it had a wedding on and that was interesting to see what they wear. Finally I walked another two miles to the subway, catching it to the museum of Kyoto – it doesn’t look like it’s open sadly… though I could be at the wrong door.
Despite it supposedly being Golden Week, there aren’t really any crowds. Some places I’ve been to I’m the only person there. I’ve enjoyed walking around Kyoto’s back streets which feels like ‘real Japan’ – the locals are all friendly and say hello. Kyoto seems very relaxed compared to Tokyo, despite the fact it is quite large and a popular tourist destination. I shall head back to the hostel to rest for a bit after the museum and see whether there is anything close I want to do.
Yes, the museum was closed and the pizza was pizza, good Parma Ham.
5.00PM, Kyoto – I got back to the hostel and decided to take a day’s holiday. I’ve probably walked close to 12 miles, so I’ve sat in the bar reading a magazine – it’s fairly nice to unwind. I’m in Kyoto a fair amount of time and don’t feel like I need to rush around – plus tomorrow’s tour will do a fair few sights in one go.
10.34PM, Kyoto – I just sat at the bar taking to a swede who came in. We talked about video games and the differences between our countries. The barman tonight was pretty cool as well, a Dutch man who’s married a Japanese woman.
7.15AM, Tokyo Station – I’m just having a light breakfast while I wait for my bullet train to arrive. There are plenty of people milling about as today’s the start of golden week. So all in all, I had a nice time in Tokyo. I slept from 6PM – 6AM again so that’s hopefully me well and truly set to Japanese time. I’ve just boarded my N700 bullet train. It’s very spacious and I’ve got a window seat which is perfect. I’d be interested in seeing just how busy the non-reserved carriages get.
It’s around two hours and a half journey – it is like flying, but on the ground and with first class room – I can only imagine what the Green cars are like. Kyoto is the second last stop. I feel like I’ve already seen enough to go home and have justified the trip. To think I have another 5 cities to see is very exciting. Oh, and I didn’t get a big earthquake – Booo.
7.53AM, Shin-Yokohama – That’s cool, you can turn the seats 180 degrees to face each other in case you’re traveling as a group. The ride is extremely smooth and fast. The two seats next to me are still empty. I hope there are some Europeans or Americans at my hostel, I’m getting a bit bored of being in silence all the time!
How nice, we’re now traveling directly along the coast. There’s a fair few tunnels which is a shame as it’s a beautiful view. When the train tilts it feels like a roller-coaster. I’ve just been reading my guide to Kyoto – it’s spread into different districts which are all easily reached. I’ll do a few things in the station area today as my legs are very stiff.
I need to see what my tour is supposed to see, so I don’t overlap when I meet my sister’s friend’s friend Estuko on the 3rd. I also need to visit Bic Camera when at the station to buy some more memory cards. I’ve just checked my money – I’ve spent around 15,000 yen which is around £30 a day.
I’ve found food very reasonable and stuck with blue collar noodle restaurants at around 5 – 7 pound a dish, which were large and more than enough; tasty as well.
The rest has gone on drinks (a lot of soft drinks) and temple / shrine entry which are usually around 2/3 quid each. I’ve obviously paid for my travel already with JR trains – Kyoto will require a subway / bus pass each day, it’s around 2,000 for two days. I’ll do that the first two days to give my legs some rest. Or maybe I’ll walk, depends how I feel when I’m moving. It’s around an hour and a quarter till I arrive.
9.36AM, Gifu-Hashima – Two more stops, England really needs to get some bullet trains – I can only imagine what the cost of them would be in rip-off Britain.
10.20AM, Kyoto Station – I’ve arrived! I’m going to go get some early lunch at a place recommended in the guidebook in the station – it supposedly does some really good breaded pork. I need some fibre as well.
11.20AM, Waco – Wow, buying some memory cards and finding the restaurant took me 40mins. The memory cards are half the price over here, so I bought another 3, giving me 3,000 more photos.
The restaurant was on the department store’s 11th floor and specialises in Tonkatsu, fried pork. I went for 120 grams with rice, miso soup and pickles. It certainly looks tasty and costs around a tenner, which is surprisingly good value. It seems the general opening hours for resteraunts and shops is 11AM over here.
11.35PM, Kyoto – I went to see three local temples today to give my feet a bit of a rest. One had lovely gardens, one was impressive for its size and the third had an American-Japanese monk who stopped me and did a talk for an hour about the history, religion and architecture. He was very friendly – Ray – and it was nice having a conversation in English.
After that I went back to the hostel, which is very good – clean, safe, nice staff – and made friends with an English bloke called Tim. We grabbed some dinner, came back and then got talking to a couple girls, Winchester Uni students, before a Canadian girl joined in the fun.
I’ll probably hang out in the evenings with them the next couple days. The bar staff are all Japanese, but they speak incredibly good English and have a wicked sense of humour.
All in all, a good day.
EDIT: 11th June 2011 – Turns out Anna and Rachel did indeed become friends on Facebook. Hi Girls!
6.27AM, Ueno – I managed to sleep 11 and a half hours before waking up early morning – thankfully it wasn’t night when I stirred, so hopefully that’s my body clock reset. The first thing I need to do today is hopefully reserve a seat on an afternoon bullet train for my Kyoto trip on Friday.
9.47AM, Shinbashi – I’m sitting in a small garden having some breakfast. I walked down Ginza Street, which is Tokyo’s Fifth Avenue. It’s full of large department stores and lots of Western names – it’s impressive but not as much as it would have been if I’d never done NYC before. Also, everywhere opens at 11AM which is odd to a 9AM opening hour man like me. I’m smack in the middle of the financial district surrounded by large skyscrapers. Fun times.
1.52PM, Iidabashi – Well that was expensive. I got confused and bought a subway ticket I didn’t need, damn Japanese language… Back to the JR station I go.
2.11PM, Akihabara – Nicknamed Electric Town Akihabara is a geek’s wet dream – it’s full of electronics shops, arcades, girls in amazing outfits and gaming stores.
6.41PM, Ueno – Today was lovely. It was around 23 degrees, a tad humid and very windy (Tokyo is a coastal town don’t forget). My legs are very tired, I don’t dare think how far I walked. I’ve just finished dinner, a selection of meat skewers in the hotel’s restaurant. Yum. I’m just watching Discovery Channel, the only English speaking channel on the TV supplied. I managed to get a seat reserved for Friday – there was only one train left with reserved space left. It’s at 7.33AM, which means I’ll have to see Senso-Ji on the afternoon of the 13th when I return to Tokyo.
I could do the Fish Market tomorrow, but I’m planning on visiting Kamakura. I’ll leave something for a return visit to Japan.
So what did I see today – first was Hama Rikju park. It’s Tokyo’s most beautiful green space, situated right in the heart of the city. Surrounded by skyscrapers, it’s an odd experience. There was a free electronic walking tour that took you around the park and explained the history behind it – it was very interesting. It was clever the way it used GPS to automatically play when you reached certain points.
After that I travelled back to Tokyo and walked to the Imperial Palace East Gardens. Sadly Tokyo station is under renovation so it’s completely covered up – it’s a shame because it’s supposed to be as impressive as our St Pancreas station. The gardens were nice, lots of nice colour. I stopped for an ice-cream as it was pretty humid. After that I walked through to Yasukuni shrine which was cool.
Then I caught the JR to the aforementioned Akihabara, before heading north to Ueno to drop off my stuff. I then spent an hour in the Tokyo National Museum – it’s only two floors and shows a limited selection of the museum’s full collection. After that it was back to the hotel and the end of a good day sightseeing.