I lost my original post for these days. Oh well, I’ll just re-start it and not try to re-create the old one that I had made.
So it was our last day in Tokyo and at the awesome Park Hyatt. Before leaving Tokyo I wanted to try to get at least one run in while in Japan. I decided to head up to the fitness center in the Park Hyatt. This is located up on the 47th floor. If you’ve seen the movie Lost in Translation, there is a scene where the main characters are swimming in this pool. I didn’t get any pictures because you’re not supposed to take pictures in the gym area. To actually get up to the fitness center you have to go through their spa (and actually tell them you’re a guest to get up there). They have a row of treadmills that face outward towards their floor-to-ceiling windows. You have this great overlook of the city and being so high up you get a bird’s eye view. It was a nice way to wake up for the day.
After sadly leaving the wonderful confines of the Park Hyatt, we made our way back to Tokyo Station by way of Shinjuku station for the ride over to Kyoto. Prior to taking the bullet train (Shinkansen), we needed some lunch. Within the underground mall area of Tokyo Station is Ramen Street. This was our first experience with ordering from a vending machine. So you walk up to a vending machine and can choose the type of Ramen you want (as well as any extras such as extra noodle, meat, other things), put money in the machine and then it spits out a ticket. You give the ticket to the attendant and wait in the line outside the restaurant. Once there is an open seat, they take you to it and then your food shows up. This place also had a paper bib for you to wear in case of splatter from the ramen. It was very tasty.
We had reserved some seats on the Shinkansen from Tokyo to Kyoto. We had obtained the JR pass when we first arrived in country. This 7-day pass allowed us to ride on the bullet train and other JR trains without paying during that time period. We did not get the fancy JR pass that allows you to take the fastest bullet trains (they’re not faster, they just have less stops so your trips are shorter). The distance between Tokyo and Kyoto is 514 km (or 319 miles). If you took a regular train or a bus, it would take a LONG time. The Shinkansen gets you there in about 2.5 hours or so. I definitely recommend that as a way to get around Japan. They have restrooms and on some trains also have a person with a cart of food/drink (including beer) that walks by every so often. Most people bring their own food onto the train to eat.
We arrived in Kyoto and after a transfer ended up at the train stop nearest our Air BnB. We had never stayed at an Air BnB before so didn’t exactly know what to expect. Our hosts were great in communications before our arrival. The place we were staying is closest to the Higashiyama train stop. I believe our hosts actually had multiple small units in one building. We quickly obtained our keys and found our way into the small studio. While it was quite cozy, it had everything you needed in a place when on vacation. The Japanese are great about fitting everything into a small functional space.
Our AirBnB was located near the Heian Shrine. In fact, you could see the large Torii Gate of this shrine from the balcony of our AirBnB.
By the time we had settled into our place it was dinner time. Our hosts were kind enough to leave us a list of local eateries along with what they had there. Since we weren’t going to the surrounding areas of Kyoto known for their Okonomiyaki, we went to a local place that had it. They had a set 2 person course menu where you split a Okonomiyaki, sauteed noodles with vegetables and meat, cooked radish, and a pork egg omelette. I also had a highball (mix of Suntory whiskey and club soda).
The Okonomiyaki is a Japanese savoury pancake dish that can have a variety of ingredients.
Overall I thought it was good and very filling. After dinner, while the sun had already set, there was a local temple that you could walk through. They had lights set up so that you had a different perspective of how temples/shrines look like in the dark. The Shoren-in Monzeki Temple was just a short 5 minute walk from our place. By far this one of our favorite temples to visit. Maybe it had to do with the lighting in the dark but also because you really walked through the grounds and absorbed the feeling.
Also behind the temple were some of the giant bamboos. These are truly stunning – I’m glad that I was able to see it because I wasn’t able to make it to the bamboo forest in the later part of the trip due to my sickness.
We stopped at Lawson’s, one of the largest convenience store chains in Japan, on our way back to the AirBnb to pick up some water as well as some snacks and beer. They have an ice bar that is “soda” flavored, which they also have in Taiwan and I got one just for kicks.
The long day of travel was finally over and we hit the sack.