We arrived at Tokyo airport at 6.30am.As usual Brian was tired and grumpy when we landed as he is too scared of flying to get any sleep on the plane.Admittedly it was the mostturbulent flight we have so far.The plane did drop from the sky at one point as we caught the tail end of a typhoon off the coast of Japan!
Thankfully for the frugal Loves, Andy had told us to buy a Japan rail pass before we got to Japan.This saved us a fortune in rail costs over the week.We decided to have a bit longer in Japan so that we could meet up with Brian's uni flat mate (Stewart) in Hong Kong after his holidays.This turned out to be great as Japan was totally amazing.We loved everything about it.The cleanliness, friendly people not out to scam you, the efficient travel, nice hostels!
On day 1 we got our rail pass.Luckily the girl spoke English and told us how to get our first train.Feeling like total train spotter geeks we were impressed by the bullet trains (Shinkansen) and even had to take some photos on the platform.All trains in Japan run on time to the second- you can set your watch by them.A welcome break from the travel in South East Asia.We boarded the train and were off to Kyoto feeling the g-force! In a smooth couple of hours we arrived in Kyoto.
A lot of the signs are in English which made our trip pretty easy.Our first issue was trying to find an ATM that would give us some money.Organised as ever we had arrived in another new country without any local currency.Eventually we found the post office full of westerners and got our first Yen.
We stayed at K's House in Kyoto which was a great hostel.Almost 5 star luxury compared to what we had been used to sleeping in.It was pretty wet but obviously there was a whole new city to see so we couldn't hang around. We learned that the Japanese in Kyoto are very good at cycling one-handed holding an umbrella in the rain.They also haven't heard of cycling on the roas so you have to watch your back!
We were hungry so attempted to find some food.Being in Japan we thought we should try some Udon noodles.Looking suitably confused in the noodle café the chef produced an English menu.We ordered our Udon and soup and slurped away with the locals.
We were too late to get in to the Castle so wandered about in the rain much to Brian's frustration.It was starting to get dark so we headed for Pontocho which has lots of little tea houses and lanterns and is famous for Geisha.Sadly we didn't spot any Geisha this time and headed back to the hostel for a comfy night's sleep.
On day 2 it was still raining.Given that I only have 1 pair of trainers and lots of flip flops I had to walk about with plastic bags in my shoes.Given we were in Japan we had to take our shoes off everytime we entered a temple, shop or restaurant!The rustling of the plastic bags was met by a few enquiring looks from the Japanese.
We spent the day exploring southern Higashiyama which was full of beautiful temples. Just the sort you imagine when you think of Japan.We drank lots of holy water and saw a few couples out in their Kimonos.The definite highlight of the day was our Geisha-spotting.We were wandering down a picturesque lane with lots of little wooden houses when in front of us two Geisha girls came out of a house.They were stunning.It was only us and them so I asked if I could please take some photos rather than be like the paparazzi snapping in their faces.Such an amazing and pretty rare sight.
The next morning we got the local train out to Arishyama where we had breakfast in a local coffee shop. The man behind the counter had a bow-tie on and was making coffee in what looked like a science experiment with a bunsen burner and glass tubes. Very tasty toast and jam with the locals though.
We then wandered about some more stunning temples including Tenryuji and walked through a bamboo forest which was pretty amazing.
We then rushed back to Kyoto central and jumped on the bullet train to Hiroshima to find out about the horrific atomic bombing.