Trip Report: Japan 2012 – Day 6 – Travel Day by Shinkansen, Kyoto

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.

Laundry in Japan, Not so Good. Image Credit: Ryan.

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.

Essen Bakery-Manapua Man. Image Credit: T.

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.

Essen Breakfast Pastries. Image Credit: Ryan.

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.

Train Bento Vendor. Image Credit: Ryan.

And here comes the (mid-speed) Hikari Shinkansen. Total travel time between Tokyo and Kyoto (280 miles): 2 hours 40 minutes.

T and the Shinkansen. Image Credit: Ryan.

Check out the spaciousness of the seats and we’re essentially sitting in “coach” class.

T on the Shinkansen. Image Credit: Ryan.

On to the bentos. Sukiyaki and menchi katsu.

Train Bentos. Image Credit: Ryan.

Or we could have selected from the passing snack cart (we got ice cream). The train agent is checking tickets in the background.

Diligent Workers on the Train. Image Credit: Ryan.

The view from a speeding Shinkansen.

View from the Shinkansen. Image Credit: Ryan.

On this train, entire cars were reserved for the bathroom space.

Bathroom Train Car. Image Credit: Ryan.

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.

Toilet on the Shinkansen. Image Credit: Ryan.

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.

Kyoto Station. Image Credit: Ryan.

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.

The Cube, Kyoto Station. Image Credit: Ryan.

A quick stop at the Happy Terrace at the top of Kyoto Station.

Happy Terrace, Kyoto Station. Image Credit: Ryan.

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.

Hotel Anteroom, Kyoto. Image Credit: Ryan.

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).

Uni Deer. Image Credit: Ryan.

Down the strangely lit hallway.

Hallway, Hotel Anteroom Kyoto. Image Credit: T.

Our room wasn’t too shabby (although, again, we apologize for taking really bad pictures).

Room, Hotel Anteroom, Kyoto. Image Credit: T.

With a cozy bench.

Cozy Bench, Hotel Anteroom Kyoto. Image Credit: Ryan.

Over-saturated light.

Bed, Hotel Anteroom Kyoto. Image Credit: Ryan.

And a welcoming honeymoon gift (set of lowball bar glasses).

Welcome Gift, Hotel Anteroom Kyoto

We returned to The Cube for dinner and chose Tenichi for tempura.

Tenichi, Tempura Restaurant. Image Credit: Ryan.

Bibs to make it super classy.

Bibs, Tenichi. Image Credit: Ryan.

Chefs and patrons at the counter.

Chefs and Patrons, Tenichi. Image Credit: Ryan.

1st Course: Shrimp and fish and vegetables.

1st Course, Tenichi. Image Credit: Ryan.

2nd course: more of the same. But with rice, koko and sake.

2nd Course, Tenichi. Image Credit: Ryan.

3rd course, amalgamated shrimp and tea.

3rd Course, Tenichi. Image Credit: Ryan.

And, finally, a hot towel and different tea.

Final Tea, Tenichi. Image Credit: Ryan.

A final look at The Cube and Kyoto Station at Night.

The Cube at Night. Image Credit: Ryan.

Dessert back at the hotel: multiple coffees, choco cake, sakura/matcha mousse, and tomato jelly. We do not recommend the tomato jelly.

Dessert Back at the Hotel. Image Credit: Ryan.


Questions, Comments or Criticisms?