Headed to Kyoto
With my JR Green Pass in hand, I boarded the Shinkansen at Tokyo Station. I have to admit that it was a bit confusing and I somehow ended up in the wrong seat. Making matters more interesting was not only was I in the wrong seat ( a fact I realized about an hour into the ride), I was in the wrong class! After being corrected by the friendly train staff, I took the long walk 5 train cars back to the green class car. Amusingly, the correct seat I was supposed to be in was the first class car! The upside (I suppose) is I got to see both the regular and green car. I can certainly now vouch for the benefit of upgrading. The green car is significantly quieter and calmer and with the added foot rests and bigger seats, I found it to be a more luxurious experience. My only complaint is that they don’t have a better selection of food (and take credit cards!) on the train. Still, it’s a relaxing ride and a great way to see the countryside.
I arrived at Kyoto station in the late afternoon and found yet another massive Japanese train station to navigate. Getting from Kyoto station to my hotel was not clear to me. In retrospect (with the benefit of hindsight) I now know I could’ve easily taken a subway two stops to within a block of my hotel but in that moment, I was knee deep in a conversation by text and I was pretty distracted. I’d suggest taking the time on the train to research the subway system in advance. Don’t make my mistake! Anyway the station was about 10 minutes drive by taxi to the Hotel. The location of my Hotel was very close to the main attractions and while you may prefer more luxurious accommodations, I would highly recommend that location if it’s your first trip to Kyoto. For more details on my hotel, click on my prior post on it with full review.
My first night in Kyoto was a joy of exploring the areas around Nakagyo Ward and the Kamo river. I found Kyoto, right off the bat, to be markedly different from Tokyo. It’s certainly smaller and more intimate. I also think it’s running at a much slower pace than Tokyo. The little back alley restaurants and shops and beautiful beautiful architecture and scenery make it a must visit in Japan. On my second day, I got to explore the famous Shijo street and I can’t express how much shopping there is on the street. It’s limitless. And so close to so many other attractions to boot. If the miles of shopping on Shijo street isnt enough for you, you’ll find the Nishiki market intersects it. It’s a more traditional market with lots of crazy foods and stalls that seemingly goes on forever as well. In other words, a LOT of shopping! I enjoyed trying Japanese style breaded Kobe steak, matcha green tea cake sundaes and other delectables throughout that area.
Kyoto is a very walkable city (which I LOVE). It’s one of those places where I could just pick a direction and go and I always discovered interesting things to see and eat.
I also got the chance to walk up to Tofukuji Temple and explore the shrine and gardens. There are some pics of that at the below!