Thursday, 17 April 2008

Day 8 Part 1 - Osaka to Kyoto via Shinkansen

Woke up this morning and prepared to go downstairs for our breakfast (included in the room price). Some views from the hotel room window (including the fire station and another hotel next to it):

A closeup of the fire station:

In Tokyo, breakfast was standard Japanese fare - rice, fish ball and vegetables soup, natto, various kinds of fish cake and grilled fish, plus salad and yogurt for the Westerners (I noticed that the Westerners in the hotel tend to be the ones trying out the Japanese food, and the Japanese were the ones binging on salad, toast, yoghurt!)

So I wasn't expecting a lot when we showed up at the hotel restaurant:

I was really surprised. The food was really excellent, and there was a bewildering assortment of choices, both Japanese and Western. Osaka has always been well known as a gourmet city, and it was proven at our hotel!

Today we decided to spend a day at the ancient capital of Kyoto. Even though Kyoto is not that far from Osaka and there are plenty of local and express trains that get there, we thought - hey, we have an unlimited travel Japan Rail pass, so let's use that to travel by Shinkansen!

So with that, we made out way back to Shin-Osaka station.

Once again, Osaka's reputation for food is demonstrated by the amazing variety of eating places at the station concourse:

We stopped by at a gift store:

And even the gift store had a great selection of food to buy as presents (no doubt for the person you are visiting that day):

Somewhat reluctantly, we header towards the ticket gate:

Waiting at the platform:

Train arriving at platform - notice the metal railings protecting passengers from falling onto the tracks - the train stops precisely so that the doors in the carriages align with gaps in the railings - that was impressive:

When the train arrived, embarking passengers had to wait while it is cleaned. Eventually two pink ladies emerged with garbage bags:

After a fairly brief journey (it was the Shinkansen after all) we emerged into Kyoto station (京都駅):

I must admit, Kyoto Station wasn't what I expected - it was a very imposing ultra modern building which seemed at odds with the traditional look of the ancient city:

This is the Tourist Information Center:

There's even a facility catering for foreign visitors and expatriates - the Kyoto Prefecture International Center (京都府国際センター):

And a large department store: Isetan (I have fond memories of visiting Isetan in Singapore when I was a child and buying lots of clothes there):

Views of Kyoto from the station (it was yet another rainy day):

Astro Boy on top of the information board:

The Kyoto bus ticket center, where we purchased tickets for the bus:

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