Well hello folk out there! My brain doesn’t know what is quite going on right now, but let me try and befuddle it a little bit.
As I type this I am enjoying fast free wi-fi in my hostel in Kyoto. I have decided to take a well earned couple of hours break before World Cup action fires up in the hostel bar. With Japan playing first, then Australia, I will either be wired or crash severely.
So you are probably asking “what’s your problem Matt?!”. Hey! No problem! Quite the opposite. I am buggered from sheer joy. I left Melbourne about 6pm last night (Friday). It is now about 6pm Saturday Japan time (only an hour out). So what I am about to tell you is all in 24 hours. Let’s backtrack.
Uneventful flights to Sydney then on to Tokyo. Uneventful in the good way in that I had a quiet person next to me, I got some sleep through the night, and my backpack was waiting for me on the carousel in Tokyo at about 6am.
It was then a quick change of a rail voucher for a rail pass and I was on my way to Kyoto. The train swap at Shinagawa was the start of the “firsts”. I bought my first can of coffee out of a vending machine…
and I hopped on my first Shinkansen…
Alas it was bit early for beer and bento on the way to Kyoto, so that will have to wait for another day. The bullet train was fast, but I probably expected lightening. But still a hell of a better experience than Metro.
The scenery alternated between cities and towns, to fields. When I saw my first old dude on a bike riding through some fields I had a little smile to myself. In fact I think I was smiling all the way. I was in Japan alright.
With minute-perfect timing, I rocked in to Kyoto about lunch time… and proceeded to get lost for the first time. Well, not too lost but I knew I went out the wrong exit of the train station. What a crazy ass train station. But I’ll get back to that.
So on the right track it was off to the hostel, a quick 10 minute jaunt. As expected the welcome was warm (like the humid hot weather) and I dropped my gear off. Now, I COULD have taken a break. But, meh. Why? I may as well crash bad later. So a change of clothes and freshen up and I was off to get my bearings.
Close by was Shose-ien Gardens. What strikes me about Kyoto is how odd it is that gardens and temples just pop up in the middle of the city. I know it is a bit different on the outskirts, but it was nice to feel like I was in a city (quite foreign) but then have some buildings centuries old.
Anyway, the gardens were a nice was to relax and start to really soak it all in. Holy crap, I’m in Kyoto! Along with nice bridges etc…
… were signs that made me laugh.
Close by was my first temple, Higashi Honganji. As luck would have it some kind of buddhist ceremony was happening, so shoes off and on to the tatami for me for a breather and get in touch with any spiritual side that may be lurking in there (not sure there’s much there… maybe I’ll be converted). It was quite gorgeous to unwind to the smell of incense and sound of buddhists actually.
From there it was another temple, this one a bit older, Nishi Honganji. After washing my hands from the mouth of the dragon, it was time to wander in. No ceremonies this time. In fact I was the only one in the main temple. Eerie and awesome.
By this time I realised I was starving. I had just been snacking the whole day. What to have! I decided to wander back to the train station to scope out the restaurants in the myriad shopping centers. Holy moly. Yes, I got lost again. Ironically I got lost in one called “The Cube”. Maybe that is where the inspiration for the puzzles in the movie Cube came from.
Anyway, after my usual indecisiveness I went with some okonomyaki. I need to take notes how they will vary as I travel. This one was quite fishy. Good though. I got some yakatori to go with it. Yum. Sorry, no photos.
It was time to wander back to the hostel to get some rest before world cup started, well, that kind of gets us right to this second. In between though I started my hunt… for Kit Kats. So far… empty handed 🙁
A few different convenience stores have proven fruitless. That’s OK. It’s just day one. I treated myself to some kind of ice cream though. Not sure what I ate, but it was that weird stale waver stuff around a fish shaped ice cream. Maybe green tea and red bean? I know it was definitely red bean in there.
So there we go. Man, this has waffled on. But all this in 24 hours. In fact my first 12 hours in Japan. I loved today. People are awesome, the city looks great. And it only gets better and crazier.
I expect the entries might get a bit briefer from here. We’ll see what happens. Tomorrow I think is a big walk near the forest to check out some temples there and meet some deer. Nara, Himeji, bamboo forests and monkey parks to come. Oh, but it is World Cup tonight. Go Japan and go Aussie.
Sayonara (and well done if you actually made it this far… heaven knows I would have stopped reading ages ago).