Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Japan 2015 Day 7: Tokyo to Kyoto

I slept well last night! Win!!

We went to the panya-san (bakery) yesterday evening for breakfast yummies. I believe that I ate my previous cappuchino melon pan before I could take a photo (can you blame me?) so here is today's:

Melon pan is a Japanese original. It is soft yeast bread covered with a thin layer of cookie, which kind of shrinks around the bread as it bakes to make it look like a melon, hence the name. This cappuchino  version is absolutely delicious. Both the bread & the cookie are coffee flavoured, but only the cookie is sweet. A very nice way to begin the day.

Today is packing & moving day. We leave the hotel around 11:00 am for Tokyo Station for lunch & to catch the shinkansen for Kyoto. Marian sent us a link for a veggie ramen restaurant in Tokyo Station (!) & Charlie figured out where to tell the taxi to drop us off so we can get there easily (with all the luggage...). If all goes well, we will unlock another first in Japan, eating ramen!!!

We caught the a cab on time- what a gloriously beautiful sky!

The cab was a Prius V!! We are Prius fans, and 2 of our 3 family cars are Priuses, so it was a thrill to finally ride in a V for the first time. Luckily it was a V, because we have 3 large luggage bags. After telling the taxi driver where we'd like to go, I mentioned that we are Prius fans & that it was our first time riding in a V. (This conversation was all in Japanese.) He said that in Japan the V is called an Alpha, which was interesting, & I told him that in the US the Aqua (the smallest model) is called a C. This conversation led to talking about different kinds of hybrids available in Japan- they have the suiso, or hydrogen battery cars, on the road already! He also told us that the big car companies in Japan originally made planes & tanks, but after the war the US said they couldn't make these any more, so they turned to the automotive industry. He said that Japan is particularly in need of alternative energy sources, since they don't produce gasoline. It was a lot of fun to geek out over hybrid cars all the way to the station with the driver :) Occasionally we got stuck on words, but sign language & creative wording won the day.

Tokyo Station was built pre-WWII & is one of the few major buildings in Tokyo to have survived the war. The entrance is really beautiful, although it reverts to generic train station once you get inside.

After getting turned around a couple times, we found our vegetarian ramen place! Marian is going to be so proud of us!! It's called T's Tan Tan, & it's not only vegetarian, it's vegan! Brendan & I had soy ramen, & Charlie had cold ramen with a side tomato salad. I'm not going to lie, I got slightly teary when I realised that I was about to eat Japanese ramen. I have wanted to try ramen for so long!!!

After lunch we found the shinkansen platform waiting room (with a Starbucks!) and found our train on the board. We had about 45 minutes' wait, & while I was looking for the ladies' room, I found a kiosk selling the cutest sweets. You'll see them when we get to the train part of our show.

 We hauled everything up to the platform about 15 minutes before it was scheduled to depart, & the train arrived as we were walking to the car 13 entry area.

They clean the train & flip the seats around when it arrives in Tokyo. Then we were able to board & stow our luggage, & find our seats. After the train got going Charlie played cards for a while & I spun.

The clouds in the beautiful blue sky were becoming very odd.

There is a typhoon headed our way, & the clouds seemed to know it.

After about an hour (of a 2 hour 45 minute trip) we had some bottled tea & the sweets I'd bought. They are called Tokyo Bananas, & have banana cream inside. They were very yummy & definitely adorable :)

We got to Kyoto Station around 4:15 & immediately looked for the subway that we needed to take to our pick-up point. It was not easy, as there were a lot of up escalators & not many down ones. We found the Karasuma Line, bought tickets to Takeda Station, & then found the subway platform. It's always dicey riding local trains with luggage, because if they're crowded there's no place for you or the luggage, but the train emptied out at Kyoto Station & we were able to find places for everything. Just 4 stops to Takeda Station, and...

Where are we going? I guess I haven't talked much about this. Last fall, knowing we were going back to Japan this summer, I asked Charlie what he thought of renting a large house in Kyoto, over the holiday weekend in mid-July, & inviting everyone we know in Japan to join us there. Charlie thought it would be fun, so we checked-in with everyone over the winter holidays, & got the sense it would be a good thing to do. So we found a place that sleeps 12 through AirBnB & reserved it for a week, starting today :) Momo & Aoi-chan arrive on Friday, along with another friend, Hiroko-san, & her 2-year-old son Nozomu-kun. Hiroshi arrives later on Friday, & Hiroko's husband Dai-kun will visit us some time next week. We are hoping that another friend will drop in, but we're not sure yet. The typhoon may get in the way...

The owner, Akinori-san, & his helpers met us at Takeda Station with a van & drove us to the house, which is a renovated, 100-year-old garden home in the Fushimi area of Kyoto. They gave us a tour & explained how everything works. We have access to the station (a 10 minute walk without luggage) & to a bus line, so we can get pretty much where ever we want to. All this, & the Gion Festival, one of the biggest in Japan, is happening right now!

And it is such a beautiful house! The main room & most of the sleeping rooms have tatami mats on the floors. There is one western-style bedroom, which Charlie & I are in, because my back isn't what it used to be. There are 3 showers & 2 have ofuro (Japanese style bathtubs for soaking) & all of the main rooms are air-conditioned, which is fantastic because it's very warm... There's a kitchen, too :) Oh, & laundry!!! And wireless :) The garden, which the house wraps around, is lovely. Here are a few photos of the house & garden:

And so here we are in Kyoto! Charlie & I found the local conbini for dinner (too tired to find a restaurant) & we saw some more impressive clouds & a lovely sunset.

 I have already made some lovely tea & am drinking it as I type. The guys are already asleep, & now it's my turn!


  1. Looks like a fabulous place to congregate with all your friends!

  2. Looks like a fabulous place to congregate with all your friends!