Thursday, January 01, 2009

Day 4: First Day of 2009, Kyoto

Tokyo to Kyoto on the Shinkansen
Kyoto, the greatest city in the universe! We took the Shinkansen using our JR Pass, which allows us to travel on most Shinkansen lines (excludes the Nozomi line). The bullet train goes at 300 kph, is absolutely quiet, absolutely clean, and absolute the best train in the universe. We had our bento sets along the way as well. Which includes rice, sushi, grilled eel (or unagi), and pickles. The bento set is cold, or at least it is not heated, but it tastes great. Along the way, we pass Mt Fuji on the right. Mt Fuji sightings are notoriously erratic, because legend has it that she is a shy one - sometimes she'll let you see, sometimes she won't. Since its a two hour ride, we set down to writing postcards to friends and family. Postcards were bought in Shimokitazawa, Jiyugaoka and Ginza.

Our Kyoto stay at Tenshi-Tukinuke
Our apartment in Kyoto was Tenshi-Tukinuke, owned by Nishimura-san. The place is nice and quaint. Two-story with tatami living room and a small view garden on the first floor. The toilet bath area has a window also looking out into the garden, giving you an almost onsen like experience while you shower. The second floor is the sleeping area which is spacious enough to contain three of us. Microwave, hot water boiler, tea, coffee, toiletries all provided. Price is around about 5000 yen per person. The location is on Matsubara ji, between Gojoji and Shijoji (5th and 4th roads), close to Gion area by bus number 50. Nishimura-san is a very pleasant person and well versed in the area. He picked us up from the Kyoto Eki and introduced us to the facilities. He also provided plenty of tour information like bus times, places of interest etc. Do contact him!

First Day of 2009 at Gion Area
After settling in, we set out for more best adventures in the universe. Kyoto, of course, is known for its temples and tradition. So more temples, and more post-New Year crowd! It was already pretty late, so went to Yasaka shrine. There were already a lot of people there at around 5pm. The night food markets were out, the temple was at full blast. So more wonderful yakitori, oden and hot sake.

After the temple, we later took a short walk around the traditional district around Gion, where geishas dart in and out. Although we didn't see many owing to the late night and new year's congregation at the temple. After that, we had a nice dinner at a place near where we live that allows you to choose your dishes. I forget what its called, but we had various types of food, including of course, oden.

Its been a long but amazing day. Back in our apartment, we got rested and ready for the next day, which promises to reveal more in the daylight. Happy New Year!

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