Japan 2019 Day 7June 27, 2019
Japan 2019 Series
Today was the day we truly escaped the confines of Tokyo and headed South for our three day excursion to Kyoto and Hiroshima.
The quickest way to Kyoto is by bullet train and we purchased our JR Passes for such an occasion! The bullet train experience was fantastic, if there’s one thing I’ve learned whilst in Japan it’s the Japanese care about the little details. Every seat in the bullet train faces the direction of travel - when it reaches its destination then a team come aboard and whilst they sweep, polish, and clean windows they reverse the direction the chairs are facing. The train also lacks the jerkiness and noise of typical trains, instead the bullet trains move smoothly and relatively quietly, enough so that at the time I’ve writing I’ve fallen asleep on every bullet train I’ve taken.
After we arrived we immediately headed for Arashyima’s bamboo forest, a beautiful grove of bamboo. There’s not too much to say about it - it was far away and hard to get to but we hit up a couple of shrines in the area, remembered most look the same and then got out again. Whilst people get around Tokyo via subway in Kyoto, buses are the primary form of transportation and so we spent a lot of time travelling around on those. Japanese buses are entered at the rear and then exited via the front at which point you pay a flat fee. It’s a pretty great system! Another Japanese efficiency I wish we had back home. We also tried to visit Kinkaku-ji Temple, which is meant to be one of the best temples in all of Japan but an entry cost (unlike all the other temples we’d visited prior) as well as a no photo policy made us turn around and walk away.
The next place we visited was at night - the Fushimi Inari shrine. I know I’ve been a little hard on shrines and temples in the past but this one was too good to pass up. Most shrines have what is known as a Torii gate, but the Fushimi Inari has thousands of them that form a network of tunnels that lead up the mountain. It’s gorgeous, and it even looks good at nearly midnight! Despite the late time we arrived the shrine still had quite a few visitors, I’d hate to have visited at peak times during the day.
I picked Kyoto as the place we’d spend our obligatory night in a capsule hotel. Capsule hotels are all about volume of guests. Each guest is given a pod to sleep in in the same room as anywhere up to thirty or so other guests of the same sex. Guests put all of their belongings in a locker; are given clothes to sleep in, access to basic toiletries and a shower; and then settle down in their capsule for the night. I was surprised at how comfortable the experience was. It did feel a little Black Mirror in terms of execution, and I haven’t booked one for tonight, but I could imagine me opting for that kind of experience in the future. It was definitely more comfortable than the AirBnB’s futon. My only complaint was the lack of access to water - and how warm and noisy the room was overnight.
Tomorrow (well today - as I write this), we go to Hiroshima to see the Island of Miyajima and the atomic blast site.