24 January 2009

japan, day six

day six: it was time to leave tokyo.  ryan and i packed up our things in the room and made way tokyo station to catch the legendary shinkansen, the bullet train.  after dropping US$110 each (!) on tickets, we walked, then ran, then sprinted to catch the train in time.  our platform was on the opposite end of the massive train station, and we only had ten minutes to cross.

after tearing through the crowds and running the length of the platform, we made it to the train with only a minute to spare.  after a few more stops in the city, we were soon rocketing through japan at 180 mph.  not that you would know it inside the train, the ride was so smooth and quiet.  the bathrooms were fully automated, and the train was right on schedule.

got to hand it to the japanese.

two hours later and we had crossed a third of the island to reach kyoto, japan's place for temples and protocols.  all my friends in hong kong who had visited japan gushed about the city, and said it was a must see.

unfortunately, we spent most of the afternoon trying to find a place to eat, and then, a place to sleep.  the first hostel we visited - full.  the second - abandoned.  we left our bags in the store room and wasted no time exploring the city.

kyoto was not nearly a dense or big as tokyo.  in fact, by comparison, it's a modestly-sized town of 1.5 million.  at this point, i was pretty used to cities in the 7 million - 8 million neighborhood.  there were only two subway lines!  weak.

above, kyoto tower.  

kyoto was the capital of japan, centuries ago.  naturally, we first tried to visit the imperial palace.  unfortunately, by the time we got there, it was 4, so the sun was already going down and the palace was closed for tours for the day.  still managed to eke out another long walk.

we wound our way through kyoto as the sun went down, stopping at the kyoto history museum, which was a major disappointment.  it was renovated around 1990, and it was clear that nothing much else had been done to the museum since then.  

these cars weren't part of the museum.

ultimately, we wound our way through the major shopping districts of kyoto, then finally made our way back to the hostel where we had left our bags.  only to discover that that hostel was full for the night as well.  we lugged our bags to the other side of town and finally found our hostel.  recently renovated, bar on the ground floor, easily the nicest hostel i've ever stayed at.

ryan and i bought a couple beers and proceeded to be loud entertainment for the rest of the guests at the hostel for the remainder of the evening.

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