The shinkansen is incredible. We left and arrived exactly on schedule (to the
Mark was impressed with how fast they go. We were on one at 200km/hr, but
the fastest trains reach 300km/hr.
We discovered that the tourist office
(where we hoped to book a hotel) was closed on Sunday's. However, Sarah called
around and we found a great hotel - The Kyoto Century Hotel. It was relatively inexpensive (under
within walking distance from the train station. It was much bigger and nicer than
our Tokyo hotel. Happily in our new room, we arranged to stay 4
Kyoto is famous for its temples, shrines, and gardens - with more than 2000
temples in the area. We started out on the first afternoon to see them, only to
hear Chloe say "I'm not going to see another Temple" after the first
one. We ate dinner at the train station. Train stations are actually great
sources of good food in Japan, and the Kyoto station is outstanding with a hotel,
convention centre, arcade, and shopping mall attached.
Chloe found a great game
at the arcade - she had to beat a drum in time with
music. She could both hear the music and see the score (with drum marks on it)
on the video screen. At the end, she was given a mark for accuracy. It was
a huge arcade, but this game seemed to be the most popular. Most of the 'american
style' racing and shooting games went unused.
The next morning, after a quick visit to the local tourist information
office, we went off to see a few more temples (we described them as 'gardens' to Chloe). It
was a shame that it was summer time as the gardens were all green. Apparently
they are best viewed in Spring or Fall when the colours come out. The
amazing thing about the gardens is that everything is tended- even full size
trees are pruned with care all the way up to the top. In both big and small trees, wayward branches are
propped with long poles into position, rather than cut off. We saw Kinkaju-ji
(the Golden Temple pictured above) and Roanji where the renowned rock garden
||The second day was to be in the company of a
volunteer student guide, but we postponed it by a day because of typhoon
Pabuk. The Japanese news had almost constant coverage of the typhoon (the
first to hit the mainland in two years). While it seemed at first that it
was coming straight for Kyoto, it veered to the north along the coast. We
got heavy rain and a strong (but not dangerous) wind instead.
doing some administration (laundry and shipping about 30 lbs of extra
books and clothes home), we took the opportunity to experience a Japanese
tea ceremony at the Miyako Hotel, and then had sushi for supper at the
train station. The sushi was served by
conveyor belt - the food went by us and we simply picked what we wished to
eat. The waitress counted the plates to determine our bill.
On our last full day in Kyoto, we had a double treat. Our student volunteer
guide, Taro, showed us around a few more temples and gardens (Heian Shrine
and garden, and the Nanzenji Temple with the Leaping Tiger Garden) and then had
lunch with us. Then after supper, we then went to the home of the Fukuoka family
- a home visit arranged through the Kyoto Information Centre. The Fukuoka's have
4 children ages 6, 10, 12, and 15, and a bunny, much to our children's
delight. The kids discovered a language in common ('Nintendo') and it was a nice
end to a great day.
We left the next day for Hiroshima by Shinkansen. After our success in Kyoto,
we went without reservations expecting to be able to find a room like we had in
On to Hiroshima...