We were very excited this morning as we were going to Kyoto on our first Shinkansen (bullet) train passed Mount Fuji and to the old capital of Kyoto. Having come from India where travelling by rail is famous and relatively easy and efficient (for India standards) we weren't quite sure what to expect with Japan's rail lines. We got to the station about 15 minutes early and the train wasn't even there. Around 10 minutes later the train pulled into Tokyo station but we weren't allowed on. With 5 minutes until our departure time a group of women in pink outfits whizzed around the carriages, cleaning the already spotless train. There was only a minute to go and they had all exited performing a short ceremonial prayer as they left the train and the passengers, who were all lined up in a perfect line were finally permitted to board. No sooner had we sat down and the train left-right on time. That is the great thing about travelling you get to experience all different ways of organisation and Japan and India could not be further apart, in efficiency, cleanliness and price!
The journey was smooth, picturesque and quiet and we arrived right on time. We had booked seats on the right hand side which allowed an unobstructed view of Mount Fuji. We had the camera all ready to go as we presumed it would be a sneak peak but we got to see it for around 30 minutes and in numerous directions-brilliant!
We had splashed out with our hostel in Kyoto as this was where we were going to be celebrating James's 30th. It was certainly a flash-packers hostel. Our room was cosy and the bed so comfortable; they even provided a range of pillows to choose from-James took about 3 from the rack!
We went for a walk into the city centre via a beautiful Japanese temple, James got told off for taking photos on the inside-I walked away and denied any acknowledgement that I knew him! Down one of the side streets there is a food market called Nishiki market that sells all sorts of produce, and we were unable to identify almost anything. I loved just wandering through, taking some interesting pictures and trying some strange food that we had no clue what we were eating-mainly fish I think! This twenty minutes of food exploration was one of my highlights of Japan and travelling, it is incredible that after all this time away we can still experience such different things and in a first world country.
The weird and wonderful food wet our appetite for something more substantial, and identifiable! We went to the famous area of Gion and its tiny street, famous for high quality food and to occasional wandering Geisha girl. We walked up and down peering into all of the tiny restaurants and finally decided on a renowned 'Shabu Shabu' restaurant and were complete tourists; ordering noodles and rice! I have to say, I have eaten a lot of noodles in my time of varying quality. These were the tastiest, so fresh and light and delightfully delicious! We slowly made our way back to the hostel admiring the shop windows, well dressed locals and a quick pit stop to the fabulous train station.