Our arrival in Japan- broke!!
Kyoto Travel Blog› entry 9 of 23 › view all entries
So we didn't read that part of the Lonely Planet guide book where it says money is difficult to access in Japan. Yep, that would have helped!! But our adversities today made tomorrow all that much better...
We get into Japan at around 5 in the afternoon, well rested and ready to go. We get our bags and go exchange our rail passes orders for the real thing. We tell the attendant that we would like to go to Kyoto. Hurry- there's the connecting train leaving in 5 minutes. We should have said: let's take it easy- we'll catch the next one, we should grab some cash, maybe a snack. But no, we run through the station and make it on the train, very pleased with ourselves for being able to navigate in Japanese. After an hour, we arrive in Tokyo to change stations- we have 15 minutes. This seems like a long time, but when you're having to get through a crowded train station at rush hour and figure out where you are supposed to go, this cuts it pretty close. By now we have realized our slight predicament: we have no yen and we're getting a bit hungry! So we dash out locate our quai and then go on a mad search to locate an ATM, all in the 15 minute time span. Success- we try to get money out. Hmmm- all Japanese. We start pushing buttons and Jeff can eventually read one that says cashu cahdo- Cash card! We put the debit card in, and bam! it spits it back out. We try another round of buttons, this one we figure out is kuhredito cahdo- credit card. We try again, second failure. We try the ATM down the hall, another failure. Ahhh!! Time is up- we have to get on the train. We dash through the station with our packs and make it just in time.
We find our seats on the shinkansen, and settle down for an almost 3 hour ride to Kyoto, with no food, no money and grumbling tummies. We manage to locate a granola bar and peanuts. I've never seen Jeff more upset: he's finally in his mecca- the land of sushi and eating peanuts! Oh- the tragic irony!!! As 10:00 pm approaches and Kyoto looms near, we realize the root of the problem. Japanese ATMs only accept Japanese bank cards. In order to get cash, you have to find an international ATM, which can be tricky. Our Lonely Planet has one identified only steps from the Train Station. We disembark, and trudge that way- and its no where to be found. In some very admirable Japanese, Jeff asks directions to Citibank, which LP designates as a safe bet- and open 24 hours. Just up the road, only 2 subway stops- which turns out to be around a 30 minute hike with our packs, and me in flip-flops (huge blisters ensued). To top it off, we were walking through the street fairs that had Kyoto streets shut down because it was the day before Gion Matsuri, so the streets were covered with food stalls. There we were, trudging through throngs of people, beset on all sides by delicious yumminess that we could not by in 95 degree heat with 100 percent humidity. To add insult to injury, we arrive at Citibank, drenched and ravenous just around 11:20. We get cash (yeah!!!!!) and take a short breather to rest our weary feet. Once rejuvinated, we head out back into the throng to get some yummy Japanese vittles... or so we thought. We emerge from the bank to see all the venders packing up and closing down!!!! IRONY thy name is Kyoto! We grab the only to food items we can find, some water and hail a cab to our hostel. I end up with a Japanese version of a corn-dog without the dog- kind of like fried dough wrapped around two chopsticks drizzled with ketchup and mayo... not the gourmet tidbit I imagined. Jeff got a delicious little mixture of fried dough, red cabbage, meat bits and other stuff which was delicious. Thus ended our first day in Japan. It gets better from here, I promise!