Japan (day 4) – Kyoto
Tuesday, 21 October 2014
In the morning, I decided to try a different cafe for breakfast. After walking around the hotel area, I decided to get food from a nearby Starbucks. It’s interesting to see the unique menu items they have in Japan.
Today is our last day in Shinjuku as the plan is to head to Kyoto in the afternoon. We checked out from the hotel at 10:30AM. From Shinjuku, we took the metro to Tokyo Station.
Tokyo Station is massive. We had a quick snack at a Thai restaurant and after that went to the Shinkansen (bullet train) platform. The line servicing the Tokyo-Kyoto route is called the Tokaido Shinkansen. There are 3 trains on this route:
- Nozomi train (140 mins)
- Hikari train (160 mins)
- Kodama train (160 mins)
The JR Pass (more info in day 1 post) enables unlimited travel on the Shinkansen, but with regards to the Tokaido line, it’s only usable on the Hikari and Kodoma (the slower lines).
When a new Shinkansen arrives at the station, a crew of cleaners will enter the train and perform a quick sweep of all the coaches. It’s interesting to watch them work.
We boarded the shinkansen train heading to Kyoto at 12:03PM. It was my first experience in a high speed train. A very pleasant journey indeed. We arrived in Kyoto at 2:48PM.
Kyoto Station is the second largest station in Japan after Nagoya Station. It is well known for its open-type architecture. From there, we changed to a local metro and headed to Karasumaoike Station. From there we walked a bit and took a cab to the hotel. The cab was just ¥600.
Our accommodation in Kyoto is a ryokan (traditional japanese inn). I wanted to experience staying in a ryokan and Kyoto was the perfect place for it.
The one we’re staying at, Kyomachi Ryokan Ma, is a mid-priced home-style ryokan with good reviews online. We arrived at the ryokan around 3:30PM. It is a nice traditional building and the room has a very Japanese feel to it.
- Accommodation: Kyomachiya Ryokan Ma
- Room type: Japanese-Style Twin Room with Private Bathroom
- Price: ¥46,000 for 3 days (~USD370 or RM1,390)
In the evening we took a cab to Gion, the Geisha district. The cab was ¥1,180 (USD9, ~RM35). Gion is an interesting place. We explored the famous Hanamikoji street. The area is generally known as a geiko (Kyoto dialect for geisha) district. The buildings on the street, mainly tea houses and restaurants, have a well preserved traditional facade to it.
From Gion, we explored the main street, Shijo Dori. We walked across Shijo Bridge and explored the many shops along the street.
We turned right into Kawaramachi Dori and headed 1 block north before turning west into Uraderachō street. I was surprised to spot cat cafe here. The cafe is called Wan Nyan Chu. We admired the cats from outside and moved on.
There was another cafe near the cat cafe, and they had a massive display of their fancy 3D latte art. Amazing!
We walked further down the street and entered Teramachi street, a covered street-mall. This is one of the famous shopping areas in Kyoto. There are a variety of art galleries, bookshops, and clothing shops in Teramachi. We later had dinner at a Ashoka restaurant (website), an Indian restaurant in the street mall. After dinner, we took a cab back to the hotel. The fare was ¥810 (USD6 or RM23).