Travel day! Kyoto bound via the Shinkansen (the only way to travel). I’ll cover how to travel via train, subway and Shinkansen in a later post, but it’s hard to overstate how simple, convenient and efficient mass transit is in Japan. For those that haven’t been, you’ll love it.
But first: laundry. And trying to figure out this combination washing machine/dryer at the hotel. It needs to be said, Japan does almost everything right, but our experiences with washing machines and dryers in Japan leave a lot to be desired.
But enough of chores. While in our hotel room, we heard very loud, saccharine music emanating from a van parked on the street below us. A line of customers started to quickly form. And, recognizing one of the most important rules in Japan – if a line starts to form for food, get in it – T quickly ran downstairs to investigate as I continued to pack. What she discovered was the Essen Fresh Bakery Manapua Man.
This is what she brought back. And it was really good stuff here. It’s understandable why there’s a line for a pastry truck. The Internet tells me that Essen is a 25 year old company based out of Tokyo’s Katsushika Ward and employs about 60 people.
Soon it was off to Tokyo Station to catch the Shinkansen. And very important: train bentos. There are sellers outside the station (like 7-11), inside the station, and sometimes right on the platform. Especially on some regional trains, there may be special bentos you can buy at certain stops or from vendors on the train.
And here comes the (mid-speed) Hikari Shinkansen. Total travel time between Tokyo and Kyoto (280 miles): 2 hours 40 minutes.
Check out the spaciousness of the seats and we’re essentially sitting in “coach” class.
On to the bentos. Sukiyaki and menchi katsu.
Or we could have selected from the passing snack cart (we got ice cream). The train agent is checking tickets in the background.
The view from a speeding Shinkansen.
On this train, entire cars were reserved for the bathroom space.
Open up the bathroom capsule and it’s standing room for, like, 10 people. Or, at the very least, one couple interesting in joining the 270 km/h club (we weren’t). The toilet is very high tech – you can control the seat, the flush, call an attendant, or open and close the door right from a seated position.
And here we’ve reached Kyoto, one of the most traditional and old school cities of Japan, and – wait a minute – this is the train station? Note: this is the JR local train side, the Shinkansen side is much plainer.
Looking past Doraemon on the stairs – and at night, all the stairs are illuminated in an animated show – there’s the summit of Kyoto Station, and The Cube, a complex of shops and restaurants.
A quick stop at the Happy Terrace at the top of Kyoto Station.
Now on to the lodgings, the Hotel Anteroom Kyoto. It’s only one stop away and a few minutes walk from Kyoto Station on the Karasuma subway line (Kujo Station). We selected this hotel because it was relatively inexpensive, close to Kyoto Station, and an interesting concept.
This place is part hotel, part resident condo, part art and community meeting space. When checking in, we were greeted by what looked to be a deer made out of uni (sea urchin gonads).
Down the strangely lit hallway.
Our room wasn’t too shabby (although, again, we apologize for taking really bad pictures).
With a cozy bench.
And a welcoming honeymoon gift (set of lowball bar glasses).
We returned to The Cube for dinner and chose Tenichi for tempura.
Bibs to make it super classy.
Chefs and patrons at the counter.
1st Course: Shrimp and fish and vegetables.
2nd course: more of the same. But with rice, koko and sake.
3rd course, amalgamated shrimp and tea.
And, finally, a hot towel and different tea.
A final look at The Cube and Kyoto Station at Night.
Dessert back at the hotel: multiple coffees, choco cake, sakura/matcha mousse, and tomato jelly. We do not recommend the tomato jelly.
- Japan 2012 – Introduction, Day 1
- Japan 2012 – Day 2, Part 1 – Tsukiji and 3 Breakfasts
- Japan 2012 – Day 2, Part 2 – Asakusa, Kappabashi
- Japan 2012 – Day 3 – Tokyo Disney Sea and a Journey to Nostalgia
- Japan 2012 – Day 4 – Odaiba and Hometown Tonkatsu
- Japan 2012 – Day 5 – Ueno, Meiji Jingu, Yoyogi, Omotesando, Shibuya
- Japan 2012 – Day 7 – Kyoto and Nara Day Tour
- Japan 2012 – Day 8 – Bicycling through Kyoto, Turtle Dinner
- Japan 2012 – Day 9 – Kyoto Imperial Palace, Ginkakuji, Travel Day to Hakone
- Japan 2012 – Day 10 – Hakone Circuit and Onsen-ing
- Japan 2012 – Day 11 – Travel Day Return to Tokyo and Sushi at Kyubey
- Japan 2012 – Days 12-13 – Akihabara Craft Beer Festival and Our Goodbyes to Japan