Today features the first ride on the Shinkansen, arriving in Kyoto at lunchtime.
Day 9 Plan:
- The Shinkansen
- A walk around the Higashiyama quarter
- The Kiyomizu Temple
- A dusk tour of the traditional Gion district
Day 9 Actual:
Good lord this was a long day.
It started raining last night and was still raining fairly heavily after breakfast when we returned to the Togendai station for the first leg of the days travel. This time it was a bus to Odawara, and that took about an hour.
After that was the Shinkansen which is fine to photograph, but rotten to photograph from. Basically unless you’re going to have your camera powered up for the entire trip, your results will be fairly random. We bought lunches at Odawara and ate them on the train.
Still, there were a few striking photos from the Shinkansen. I quite like this one:
We arrived in Kyoto around 1:30 and dropped the bags at the hotel since we couldn’t check in yet.
One thing worth noting, especially for the Hakone leg, is that Japan has a thriving business in luggage forwarding. The main bags were forwarded from Kamakura to Kyoto, and we used smaller bags with two nights worth of clothes in Hakone. This was really useful. As you may have gathered there were lots of odd transport options over the last couple of days , and trying to manage the big bags through those would have been painful. Instead the larger bags were waiting for us in Kyoto.
We left the hotel for a walking tour and started at the architecturally impressive Kyoto Station. Incidentally this concert sequence in Sound! Euphonium S2 was set here:
If you watch the video you’ll see that they basically got all the details spot on, right down to the sculpture to the right hand side of the stage. Like so:
This shot from the top, or close to it, gives a bit of an understanding of the sheer scale of Kyoto Station. Oh, and that diamond shaped sculpture to the left? You see that in the concert clip as well, but from below.
The station is, along with Kyoto Tower, apparently despised by Kyoto natives because those buildings just don’t fit in Kyoto. Given what we saw elsewhere I kind of agree.
Speaking of Kyoto Tower:
As we continued I picked up this shot from the other end of Kyoto Station. You can just see the stage and the sculpture in the distance.
The next stop was the Higashiyama quarter which is much more the sort of scenery you expect from Kyoto, and where some shopping may have occurred.
The Higashiyama quarter was full of people in traditional clothing. Apparently there’s a thriving business in hiring these outfits out by the hour or so for people to promenade through the quarter. This is further encouraged by restaurants and the like then giving discounts to people in traditional gear. All of which serves to neatly reinforce Kyoto’s image as the traditional capital of Japan.
Although there are some cars, Higashiyama is mostly a pedestrian district which really supports the traditional look of the streets.
Sometimes it was the little details, like this path to a (presumably) restaurant with the tanuki statues and the sculpted tree:
Some time back Artemis wrote a piece on when anime gets it right in terms of representing the reality of Japan. One of the points she made was the complexity of overhead wiring and cabling in Japan. At one point I looked up and was immediately reminded of that piece (which is excellent, and you should read it, see link above):
As we headed towards the Gion district, there were some quiet back streets that I found quite striking:
Once we reached the Gion district we were introduced to our guide Mia who took us around the district that is one of the key Geiko amd Maiko districts of Kyoto. Speaking of Mia:
I did see a couple of Maikos and Geikos, and actually managed one photo of a Maiko during the tour. Mia was quite amusing and highly informative, although I was flagging by the end of it at about 6:30.
That said though, it was again the traditional feel of the scenery, particularly the rivers/canals that really sang during this tour:
During the tour Mia mentioned a key scene in Memoirs of a Geisha on a bridge in the Gion district. IIRC I took this photo from that bridge:
I’m not quite sure how I managed it but I quite like this darker shot of the river:
Dinner revived me somewhat and we then took another short walk through another of the Maiko/Geiko hangouts, although we didn’t see any this time.
Then back to the hotel to check in and crash.
And here’s the photo album for today.
 i.e. the Bullet Train for those that don’t know.
 The exclamation mark is from the KyoAni site. Honest.