The view from the train

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April 2nd 2016
Published: April 2nd 2016
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We spent most of today travelling so I thought I wouldn't have anything to write but in a country so different everything from checking out the supermarket shelves to changing trains is interesting.

We took 5 trains to get from Kawaguchiko to Kyoto and every change was smooth and well signposted with clean toilets, helpful staff and beautifully-presented, healthy food available at every station. There is an excellent website to help organise such trips and it had scheduled a one minute transfer in our trip. We didn't believe we'd make it so had worked out an alternative but it was right - the connecting train was waiting on the opposite platform as we drew in. Such efficiency is quite a cultural experience.

The trip allowed us to see a good chunk of scenery, lots of housing but also mountains, market gardens, rice paddies and cherry blossom which once we reached lower elevations was again in full flower. I was struck by the cloud patterns. When we left Fuji this morning it was completely covered by fog and cloud. Elsewhere we saw bands of low cloud floating across mountains, a technique used in yamato-e (classical water colours) for separating scenes that made perfect sense now I have seen the way cloud here behaves in the landscape.

Kyoto Station is huge and very impressive, a modern steel building with a wavy roof designed to evoke classical Heian architecture (Heian is the original name of Kyoto and was the centre of power in the 8th to 12 th centuries, regarded as the classical period of Japanese culture.) We went back this evening to buy dinner and check out transport for tomorrow and stumbled on a lovely colourful fountain display to music. Unfortunately I hadn't brought my camera but I managed a shot on my phone.

Our apartment is tiny. I might be able to swing a cat if I stood right in the middle of the only room but Danny couldn't even manage a kitten. It's fine for our purposes but difficult to imagine living in something this small. No wonder the Japanese are so good at miniaturisation.


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