Day 6 - Happy New Year (Part 2) - 4:00PM JPT

This is the second part to the enormously long post I wrote in my Journal on New Years Day.

We made it to the Ryokan by 9:00PM, I believe. This was much later than we told them we would return, but they still didn’t seem to mind. We grabbed our bags and walked what I thought was going to be a 40 minute walk to the hotel. Instead, it turned into a 90 minute walk only 1/3 of the distance to the hotel. We got frustrated with how long it was taking, so when we made it to a known street, we hailed a taxi where we somehow effectively communicated to the drive where we wanted to go. The 15 minute taxi ride only cost 1080 Yen, which was much cheaper than I was told it might cost. I was very pleased, as were my legs and Melissa. We checked in, threw our stuff down and pretty much crashed.

The following morning we got up and went to breakfast, where it was buffet style Japanese breakfast again. Rice and fish with every meal: yum. We talked to Brookie who said he wouldn’t be joining us for the day as his friend wanted to meet up with him. Melissa and I went back to the room, made love, and went back to sleep until about noon. WE woke up, got ready, and headed out to an already setting sun. Our tasks were:

  • Get to Kyoto station.
  • Use subways to get to Keage station.
  • Enjoy temples and shrines.
  • Get back to the Holiday Inn.

I suppose it would be worth mentioning that I managed to secure a second night at the Holiday Inn. Melissa and I were tired of doing the hotel hopping, and I paid a whopping 24000 Yen for the room. It included dinner (which we didn’t eat) and breakfast the following morning.

So, when we set out for the subways, I had no maps and no guide to where we were supposed to go. So, I managed to make it to Hiashioji-dori, one of the major streets in Kyoto. We walked for a little bit before hopping on a bus to Kyoto station. This took 40 minutes, which was 30 minutes longer than I wanted it to take. We went underground, got some lunch, then took the subway to Keage station. We made it to the first temple on our map, enjoyed it and its unique sights for a bit, then walked to nearby sights along what’s called the ‘Path of Philosophy’. I was impressed with a lot of places, but disappointed that most shops were closed and that we missed out on a lot of sites that day because of lost light. By 5:30PM it was very dark and we reached the end of the ‘Path of Philosophy’. We wandered for 30-40 minutes trying to figure out if we wanted to go back to Kyoto station or try to walk our way to the hotel. We figured we’d walk it, and after passing Kyoto University, we made it back to Higashioji-dori. We walked for another hour or so and made it back to the hotel, where we watched more wacky Japanese television and fell asleep @ about 10PM.

Today, day 6 of our journey, started early. We were walking empty streets of Kyoto @ 9AM. By 10AM we reached (and visited) some of the temples we weren’t able to from the night before and did more shopping. We also were able to visit a Japanese garden & museum of a local artist in Kyoto (which was unique) and we decided our legs had had enough in the past 3 days. I would say we walked a total of 25 miles in the past 3 days, so we were exhausted. We came back to the hotel, ahd some chinese food, and did the last bit of shopping we’ve done for today thus far. I managed to buy a BIG stack of manga for about 1600 Yen! I should have bought more, but maybe I will in Tokyo. Additionally, I spend about 20,000 Yen on a Nintendo DS Lite and game for Melissa. She seems super excited, which I’m happy for.

We then got on the shuttle from our hotel to Kyoto station and hopped on the shinkansen. Now, we’re about 10 minutes outside Tokyo. I think I’ll wrap up with a couple of thoughts on Japanese culture.

The first thought I would like to express is about the vending machines. They are, by far, the smartest ideas here, as well as the most abundant, I’ve ever seen. You can not only get cold drinks, but HOT drinks as well. IE: Coffee, Tea, hot cocoa, etc. in a can - all hot. Granted, I have not seen any snack vending machines around - which is also a plus. The snacks you get in the vending machines in the states are SOOO bad. But, the snack vending machines are replaced by an evil culprit: the cigarette vending machines. They are almost as abundant as the drink vending machines. Also as abundant are beer vending machines. I have to say that if vending machines were as abundant and smart / convenient in the states as they are in Japan, everyone would be happier. Additionally, if the artery thickening, sugar rich drinks were replaced with the green tea and other bottled drinks that are in Japan, we’d all live healthier lives.

Finally, I have to mention - crap, Tokyo Station. I’ll talk about the crazy drivers later.