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Day six--Hakone to Kyoto

Kyoto Travel Blog

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Waiting for the bus

We left the guesthouse really early this morning and took the meandering bus back down the mountains to Odawara. We had to catch the early shinkansen to Kyoto since it was a long trip—three hours all together. I enjoyed the long train ride however, being able to see a lot of the Japanese countryside along the way. Big cities and small ones, farms and industrial plants. It was also a pleasant break from all the walking we’ve been doing on this trip. I really like the bullet trains! I wish we would have them in the states so one could get from Minneapolis to Chicago in less than the six to seven hour drive it takes to get there! Then I could go watch Chicago’s professional Soccer team play on a regular basis!

Once in Kyoto, we dropped our luggage off at our hotel which was surprisingly right across the street from the old Imperial Palace.

Imperial Palace
Convenient! We had reservations for a tour of the compound and didn’t have time to take our bags up to our rooms before hand, so they were left in the lobby. Some of the others were bellyaching about it, but I couldn’t understand why. It wasn’t as though someone was going to steal all of our stuff! Actually it wasn’t as if, at least, I had anything anyone would want to steal! My most expensive possession was the backpack itself! Anyways, we left our things at the hotel safe as houses and walked down to the entrance of the imperial palace. We later learned that the entrance we used was traditionally the entrance for servants and peasants and that there were several different entrances for several different types of people. One for the emperor himself, one for his family, and one for distinguished guests such as foreign monarchs, prime ministers, or presidents. The palace was used before the Meiji restoration when the capitol of Japan was switched from Kyoto to Edo—which was then renamed Tokyo.
Noji Castle
It was a very beautiful place though I didn’t really enjoy the tour that much as there were about a hundred other tourists taking the same tour. It was nearly impossible to get any good photographs which frustrated me greatly as one of my goals for this trip is to get back into serious photography. I won a photography contest last year and am hoping to repeat that success this year!

After leaving the old imperial palace we headed to somewhere a bit more accessible, the Kyoto residence of Tokugawa Ieyasu, known as Noji castle. It wasn’t really a castle though. I had a much better experience at this place than I did at the palace. Here there were much fewer people and we were actually permitted to go inside the main building! That was fun because it was constructed with special wood floors that would creak no matter how lightly one tread! It was used as a security system to alert the inhabitants to the presence of intruders.

The Irish Pub in Kyoto
It was also pretty interesting to see a room where they had models of the Shogun in a meeting with a bunch of other officials depicting the meeting that determined the end of the Tokugawa regime. It was very detailed.

We toured around the rest of the area before heading back to the hotel to retrieve our belongings and bring them up to our rooms. At six a bunch of us met in the lobby to catch a bus that would take us to the Gion District of Kyoto which was historically famous for being the Geisha district. We didn’t see any Geisha tonight however, but Amanda, Nadean and I walked all the way down o the shrine at the end of the road, the Yasaka Shrine. We then decided to find someplace to eat and we settled upon eating in an Irish Pub called The Gael. It was really fun! I thought it was great because it looked like an Irish pub you’d go to in the states or in Ireland, except the barkeep was Japanese! It was also funny because hardly anything on the menu was food you’d find in an actual Irish pub in Ireland. It was all good though, and he three of us ordered garlic bread, fried chicken and French fries! We thought it was really great to be eating in an Irish pub in Japan! As we were leaving, the boys from our trip were arriving and that was also sort of a funny coincidence! Apparently they wanted to see how the Japanese did Irish pubs as well.

The three of us girls proceeded to walk back to the main road where we investigated a karaoke place then an arcade. The arcades here are so much different from ones back home. Not just for the fact that they’re all several stories high, but also because they have slot machines on the upper levels! We didn’t do any gambling though, and instead went down to the basement to get our pictures taken in a photo booth. For the longest time we could figure out how to work the booth and thought it had eaten our money when all of a sudden we discovered that we were in the wrong booth! Eventually we figured it out well enough to work some of the things and we got our picture taken and fancied it up with odd doodles and things. I would have liked to have known how to work the contraption before hand, but I guess next time we’ll all be better prepared!

By the time we’d finished there it was time to meet the rest of the group. We proposed karaoke to them and everyone seemed interested. Unfortunately it was past nine and the last bus left at 9:41 so there wasn’t enough time for it tonight. We all agreed to do it tomorrow night though and I really look forward to it! I hope no one flakes out!

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Waiting for the bus
Waiting for the bus
Imperial Palace
Imperial Palace
Noji Castle
Noji Castle
The Irish Pub in Kyoto
The Irish Pub in Kyoto
Kyoto
photo by: ys484