We were on the move today, which meant trains. I spent the better part of three months on trains last year and this felt very comfortable to me. We barely missed the 10:03 train to Kyoto, but that meant that I could go get us some Starbucks as we waited for the 10:33. It still felt almost second-nature again, with Loren asking questions about the train/platform, etc. and me being able to answer them and just feeling like I knew how to do this. Haven’t generally felt like that in Japan. But that’s because I had done this before. Many times!
Of course this is Japan, so there are differences. First, they wait in very orderly lines to board the train. At first I couldn’t figure out why we were waiting to board. It was right there. In Europe when the train arrived and the people disembarked, it was a free-for-all. Here, people stood in line at the cars they wanted to ride on. And then I noticed that there were designated line spaces painted on the ground. I like that about Japan! As we stood in line waiting, I noticed that we were waiting because there were cleaners going through each car. That would never happen in Europe! No wonder Japan is so clean!
The ride was nice. I can’t help but say how much I love modern technology. I was halfway around the world, on a train in rural Japan, but able to listen to the Cardinal game! What a win! Magic number is two…hopefully tomorrow (well, today, depending on where you are!)
We got to Kyoto and decided to take a cab to our hotel. We knew it was near the train station, but it appeared to be a couple blocks away on the map and you never know what side you exited, etc. etc. etc. We got into a cab and showed him the address. He stopped and said the name of our hotel several times and I kept repeating it, like yes, that’s the one. He then said other things in Japanese that I took to mean the hotel was very close and didn’t want to drive us. He was also pointing. But we persisted, so he exited the parking lot and went around the block across the street. That was our hotel. WHOOPS. It did not look to be just across the street on the map! I’m sure he thought to himself, lazy Americans! But we just didn’t know!
We couldn’t check into the hotel (even though it was only 30 minutes early), so we left our bags and headed to the Fushimi Inari Shrine. These are the Torii Gates (my gates!). The Torii gates lead a path up Mount Inari to the Inner Shrine. Along the way are smaller shrines. This was supposed to be 4km. I didn’t know why people were saying it took several hours. Oh, perhaps because it’s straight up the side of a freaking mountain. I don’t think I’ve climbed so many stairs before in my life. It was part paved path and mostly stairs. So tiring. There are something like 10,000 Torii, many donated by Japanese businesses, but the shrine is primarily a shrine to the god of rice.
It was a great time and I’m glad we went, but it was super tiring and my feet were feeling it at the end. There was also quite a bit of natural beauty as we went. A lake, so many trees, and some really pretty overlooks. We stopped to take photos and the higher we went the less populated it was. We made it to the top and even the trek down was difficult at times. I didn’t think my feet would hurt from walking DOWN steps. I really wish my Jawbone hadn’t broken the first day here, so I could see how many steps I got in. I probably would’ve broken the pedometer! Speaking of pedomaters, there was an old Japanese man who was walking and clicking away at a pedometer. It was cute!
After the trek up the mountain, we came back to Kyoto Station. We were going to go to Gion for dinner, but we were getting chilly (a new feeling on this trip!) and so we wanted to change clothes first. But then we were both super hungry (we had each only had a baked good with our Chai all day and it was not 6pm), so we ate at McDonald’s at the station. It was pretty good, but while we were eating I found a massive bug in my shirt. I was so freaked out trying to get it out of my shirt (near my armpit) that I damn near took my shirt off right there in McDonald’s! I have a picture of it. It’s gross. And large. Ugh.
After dinner we checked in to the hotel and rested for a bit. By then we had given up on the idea of going out in Gion, so we went next door to the mall instead. I took a lot of good pictures of things at these stores. They aren’t your average American stores, that’s for sure! Then we got some drinks and snacks and are just going to relax! Tomorrow will likely be a day of a lot of walking as well, so we need to rest up!