I had an early start today, a very early start. I had to catch the first train out of Shinjuku going to the airport for my whirlwind trip to Seoul, Korea. To make getting around easier I arranged to leave my suitcase at the hotel in Tokyo, and just take a backpack with me.
I like trains. I’ve mentioned this before, several times. I don’t like buses. Buses were part of my commute to high school for several years, but I never enjoyed them and after a while I just started walking from the train station to school. Today, armed with a transit map and a rough bus timetable we headed out into Kyoto, on the buses.
After the morning, that turned into most of the day, trip to Nara we caught the train back to Kyoto Central. Mum headed back to the hotel, dad and I caught another local train just a few stops to visit Fushimi Inari Taisha. It is a very popular place in Kyoto to visit for locals and tourists. Again, there were people everywhere. There were a lot of people walking around in traditional kimonos, some were locals having what appeared to be graduation photos taken (mortar board, certificate), others were tourists (speaking Chinese, or American). Dad and I joined the throngs people on the walk up the hill through the torii gates.
The day started with the standard can of coffee and random rice spicy rice thing for breakfast from a convenient convenience store on the way to the station. We caught a local train from Kyoto to Nara, just over an hours trip. I hadn’t previously been to Nara, on my last trip I had stayed in Osaka with a day trip to Kyoto, but not to Nara.
One of my favourite things to do travelling is walking around cities, and Tokyo is a great city to walk around in. There are so many subway and local train stations that you can walk in almost any direction and just end up at another station and catch a train back. When I visit Melbourne or Sydney I enjoy walking around the cities. I tried it once in Canberra, but the city area isn’t an overly interesting place to walk around.
There are quite a few museums in Tokyo, we only made it to two on different days. The first was visited was the Tokyo National Museum. We took the train into town using our JR passes. At the station we managed to spot a desk with helpful people selling tickets to all the museums in the area. I pointed my phone at the handwritten signs to work out exactly what they were selling. We then walked through the park in the rain to the museum armed with our tickets. My Hong Kong umbrella served me well.
There was a small confusion with our rooms when we checked into the hotel in Kyoto, I didn’t pay for the hotel breakfast, and dad accidentally booked for one person in a smoking room. Mum and dad ended up with a nice non-smoking room, and I was quite happy to get breakfast from 7-Eleven, there were three convenience stores within a convenient walk.
There were two day trips we planned to do from Tokyo while we were there. One to see Mt Fuji (but not go to Mt Fuji) and one to the north to Nikko National park. We thought that we should be able to do the Mt Fuji trip ourselves on the trains, but the Nikko one would have been a little more complicated, and decided to get a guided coach tour for that. The tour group did hotel pickups from Shinjuku, but not ours. I’m not surprised I wouldn’t want to try and get a coach through the tiny street it was on. I rang them up to confirm the pickup location at Shinjuku Station, the hotel phones didn’t dial external numbers so I used Hangouts on my phone.
Before I had even gotten through immigration I managed to pick up SIM card with unlimited* data and was back online. I grabbed my bag from the carousel and headed towards the train. There is a customer service centre just after customs with a big sign that says “There are more places to buy your ticket, including the destination station.” or something like that. I bought a ticket anyway and head to the platform. Exiting the customs area and into the arrivals hall they have giant TV screens showing the other exits passengers can come out, just in case people waiting for you are at the wrong one they can see you.