Published: September 21st 2010September 21st 2010
It's the oldest pagoda in Japan
Today is the day where I acclimate myself to the time change. That's right, today is the day. It's amazing what a 16 or 17 hour difference can do to you. Anyone that knows me, knows I do not require much sleep......... especially while traveling. However, I can't lie, the last couple of nights have kicked my ass in the sense that I haven't been able to get accustomed to the time change. No wonder I wake up at 4am. Anyways, I digress........
Today, the plan was for Katie and I to head to Kyoto. We woke up at 4am, but couldn't check out until 8am, so we walked around for a bit. Well, we could've checked out before 8am, but didn't feel comfortable not having proof that we checked out (reception opens at 8am). While trying to kill some time, we went out for breakfast. After searching for about 20 min. or so, we found this one place on the main street by our hostel. The closest American way I can describe it is a much smaller, Japanese version of Norm's restaurant. They had breakfast and lunch food. Katie wasn't really feeling any of the food, so she had
a salad and rice. I, on the other hand, felt a little adventurous so chose some random stuff off the menu. Oh, another difference from this restaurant and ones in the States is that you had to go to a machine first. Essentially, you buy your ticket, hand it to the waiter/cook, and voila. 2 min later you have your meal.
Furthermore, Katie and I left the hostel at around 8am or. The local at the receptionist gave us a metro route, but I think the route we have been using the last few nights was a little more efficient. We headed to Tokyo station to hop on the Shinkansen (bullet train). For those of you that plan on traveling to Japan, I highly recommend the Japan Rail Pass. Not only can you use it on the JR Line and the JR Yamanote Line, but you can use it for longer distance trains like the Shinkansen and the Narita Express that takes you to and from the airport. We've already used it enough to make it worthwhile and we still have a return trip to Tokyo.
After arriving in Kyoto, we went to the hostel which was only
a 5 minute walk from Kyoto station. SOOOO glad we didnt' have to lug our bags around for much longer than that, as it was getting hot. Also, I noticed our room was MUCH more traditional than the one we had in Tokyo. The main room was a maybe 12x10 room with tatami mats etc. You'll see what I mean in the pictures. It also had a bathroom, toilet, closet, etc. Another good choice in accomodations if I say so myself. We checked in, dropped our bags off and headed to get some food. The guy at the front desk recommended this sushi spot called Musashi on the other side of the train station. It's a conveyor belt style sushi restaurant where you grab plates off a conveyor belt. They know how much to charge you by how many plates you have. The cool thing is, each plate is only 137 yen or a little over a $1 or $1.50. I tried a little bit of everything, from tuna and salmon rolls to eel and octopus.
After our hunger had been satiated, we headed to the Toji Temple. Word on the streets was that there was a huge flea
Conveyor Belt Sushi.
market there today. We still had to buy some presents for people back home, so we checked it out. I must say, I'm a pretty good haggler. I bought my sister........... well, I'm not going to say it, because it'll ruin the surprise (you're gonna have to wait until I get home Michelle!!!). Anyways, I got the guy to sell it to me for less than half the original price. I walked away twice before he was like "ok, ok". So we bought some stuff, and got to see some really old temples. You can tell the temples in Kyoto are MUCH older than the ones in Tokyo. I'm assuming it's because they didn't have to be rebuilt after World War 2.
With gifts and souvenirs we went back to the hostel. We showered, had some drinks, and rested for a little bit. After a couple hours, we headed out. Katie and I stopped at this traditional Japanese bar. it was a little whole in the wall that pretty much can only hold 4 or 5 people. It was GREAT! I had so much fun. The old lady serving food and drinks was so sweet. She didn't speak English,
I don't speak Japanese, but we got along great. If I remember correctly, the woman's name was Isa and the man's name was Niro. She even dressed me up as a samurai and took pictures haha.
After a quick beer and sampling some of Isa's culinary skills (she made some pretty good snacks), we decided to head to Gion. It's a flagstone paved street with traditional buildings. This is where you're most likely to see geishas scurrying from building to building. We didn't see any, but the street was REALLY cool. It really gave you the feeling of old Japan. We also checked out a small temple. Just north of Hanamikoji-dori is the touristy area. There's lots of bars, restaurants, and even strip clubs. We went on a wild goose chase for an ATM that would accept our ATM cards, but no....... it wasn't for the strip clubs haha. We were running low on cash and wanted to make sure we had enough to get back to the hostel.
After wandering the area for a bit, Katie got some Italian food and I had a beer. Katie had worn sandals which were starting to kill her feet, so
we headed back to the hostel. Katie went to bed and I'm still up blogging. Tomorrow, we plan on going to Nijo castle, the Imperial palace, the Golden Pagoda, and if time allows, some other stuff. Hope all is well with you guys and we miss you! Talk to you soon!
There are more photos below