Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Japan Trip Day 2: Kyoto

I woke up at 530 this morning. Not because I did not sleep soundly but because we would be travelling to Kyoto today. The journey would take about 2 hours plus with the shinkansen. In fact, I was surprised that I slept quite well considering it was my first night in foreign land. I started to dislike the location of my hotel as it took me about 15 minutes to reach Ikebukuro JR station and another 30 minutes to reach Shinagawa to change to shinkansen. The journey from Ikebukuro to Shinagawa also passed by busy stations like Shinjuku and Shibuya. It was not as bad as those sardine packed trains, which my friend claimed would only happen in the subway/metro and not on JR, and it was still not body-to-body packed. So yeah, the peak hour MRT in Singapore is more sardine packed.

I learnt that with JR Rail Pass, we could only take Hikari or Kodama shinkansen but not the Nozomi or Mizuho. We bought breakfast at the station as eating is allowed in the shinkansen. Yay!! I bought a tonkotsu sandwich and a gyudon bento. It was not being greedy but it was to prepare myself for the 2-3 hour hike to reach the top of Fushimi Inari shrine which was the plan for the day. The tonkotsu sandwich was amazingly yummy. I did not enjoy the gyudon as it was actually beef tongue. Gosh!!

The shinkansen itself is impressive. Not only it is timely, it is clean (even the toilet), and it really feels 'atas'. It even feels more atas than the first class train that I took in Paris. It is basically more comfortable than taking a flight. Haha.. One thing interesting about the toilet, there is a male toilet which is only a urinal. There is a door which is not lockable and there is a window for you to see if anyone is peeing inside. No big deal except that female can also pass by the corridor and pass by the toilet. Hahaha..

The journey to Kyoto took close to 2.5 hours. There were great sceneries along the way but I did not take photos because I was not sitting at the window and I thought the train was too fast and the background would be blurry. Weather forecast was accurate and it was raining along the way. I prayed that it did not rain in Kyoto but my prayer was unheard.
Yep, that famous shrine with lots of red gates
Fox which is believed to be Inari (God of Rice)'s messenger
The rain definitely dampened my mood. It is so troublesome to carry umbrella and camera at the same time. I was also irritated with the crowd as I hate to take pictures with a lot of strangers in the background. I was expecting that so I intended on walking further up the Fushimi Inari hoping that it would be quieter. Red gates are everywhere along the way so people will not know where I take my photos. Things were not getting better as the rain was getting heavier. Something was also wrong with camera. I knew the settings were messed up as it did not allow me to focus but I did not know how to fix. My photos were terrible under umbrella and my friend's phototaking skill is below average. Bleah!! I was hoping that with him bringing a DSLR, his phototaking skill would be pretty good. I was wrong: cut off legs/shoes, slanted pictures, cut off gates/buildings, slow and hence missed windows of opportunities when there were no other tourists in the pictures. It was like going with my sister all over again :( After about half an hour, I decided to give up and detour to return. I was not going to spend 2-3 hours hiking to the top under the shower. Halfway down, the rain stopped. Thank God and we decided to climb all the way up and so we did.

My friend promised me a great view from the top but he was wrong. Haiz.. The great view was at the middle of the trail. At the top was only a shrine. I could not take a great photo because of inconsiderate tourists with their butts in my photos. Damn! Anyway, mission to complete Fushimi Inari is completed so I don't think I will return here anymore haha..
The view at the mid-point of the whole journey. See how cloudy it was :(
Yeah!! I completed everything.
Back down at the bottom, I decided to buy a fox plushie as a memento. Hehe.. There were some enticing food stalls (takoyaki, karaage, etc) but after takoyaki burnt my throat, I decided to stop. We were initially planning for a trip to another shrine: Kiyomizu-dera but I told my friend I was not interested since it started to rain again.

I could sense that my friend was not too happy that our journey in Kyoto was that short so we went to the shopping mall just across the Kyoto station. I thought it would be a short visit and I would not buy anything and I was wrong. On the first level, there were so many attractive restaurant. On the second level, my friend was stuck at liquor shop while I was looking at shoes. I realised my $99 Adidas shoes which was on sale was way too expensive. The branded shoes on sale at this mall was like 5000 JPY only nia.. If I were a fan of branded shoes, I would definitely buy a pair. On the top floor, there was something unexpected: anime shops which obviously I could not resist. I bought 3 Free! mooks which are Kyoani exclusive and I could not find online and I bought Haikyuu! and Kuroko no Basuke anime books. I will definitely buy them in Kinokuniya Singapore anyways.

We went back down for dinner. Initially we wanted to eat the mouth-watering okonomiyaki but decided to skip if we had to cook ourselves. Haha... Luckily my friend was not too picky about food so we just went to a pasta shop. We did not exactly want a pasta but we chose that shop because it had English menu. Lol. The serving was huge and the waitress was very helpful despite limited English. I was full but I forced myself for a Matcha parfait which was normal only.

That marks the end of a day at Kyoto. I wanted to wash my clothes now but darn, someone just started to wash. If I waited for him to finish, I would finish washing and drying at 2am. Heck.. I rather wake up early tomorrow to wash!

Due to the bad weather today, we had to change our plan. Initially we plan for a trip to Hakone to see Mount Fuji tomorrow and then to Disneyland on Thursday. In the news we saw that there was a typhoon nearby and no wonder the weather was this terrible. Weather forecast shows that weather will improve from Friday onwards so we switch Hakone to Friday and Disneyland to Sunday. I want to avoid a weekend trip to Disneyland but I think it cannot be helped. Next Monday is not possible since I need to know if I can get Genie statue from Disneyland to determine my shopping at Akiba. Thus Disneyland cannot be one day before my flight back. We are going to Odaiba to see Gundam tomorrow and then sightseeing in Shinjuku, Shibuya, Harajuku, etc on Thursday. 

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