Day 7 of Japan: To Kyoto and Kitano Tenmangu Shrine Flea Market

We headed out from Tokyo to Kyoto, taking the “bullet train.” The theme for today’s story was just barely making things in time! Read on for details and many pictures. Now updated with pictures of our tiny Kyoto room — not sure how these got forgotten before!

After packing up at our nice hotel in Tokyo, and eating for the third time a wonderful breakfast at Pronto (features the egg/toast dish we’ve fallen in love with), we then took caught the subway to Tokyo station to catch the Shinkansen “bullet” train from Tokyo to Kyoto. We just barely made the train, after getting really confused for the first time about where to go for the right transportation in Tokyo — it’s normally labeled quite clearly. We hopped on our train a minute before it departed. The bullet trains can go up to about 190 mph (!!), so our approx. 250 mile journey from Tokyo to Kyoto took about 2.5 hours (it has a few stops it makes). We took some pictures along the way, but most turned out a bit blurry.. for obvious reasons. But the scenery was really beautiful — it took a while before the giant sprawling city of Tokyo vanished, but then there were big, shallow rivers (due to high percent of damming of the rivers in Japan), tons of irrigated rice fields, small towns, and beautiful, tree-covered hills. It was a real slice of Japanese countryside, I think.

As a side note, to point out just how rare trash cans are in Japan, they were marked out specifically on the maps of our train (gray schematic imaged below) — there wasn’t a trash can in every car…

Once in Kyoto, we threw our stuff in our hotel room (to be discussed below), and ventured our seeking lunch. We found a nice place a few blocks away and grabbed some ramen and tonkatsu (shredded, deep-fried pork). Andrew took before and after shots of mixing the over-easy egg yolk with sticky rice — an amazing transformation that leads to a super tasty dish we’re going to have to replicate when we get back home. We also enjoyed a delicious fruit/ice cream desert — it was a bit pricey because of the fruit, which was probably all imported.

Having fueled our tanks, we made our way to the Tenmangu Shrine, which has a flea market on the 25th of each month, which happened to be today! We had to go since Teisha cannot at all resist flea markets. Along the way, we saw some small shrines on the side of the road (Teisha is next to one shown below). We found the streets of Kyoto to be very different from Tokyo — surprisingly a bit dirtier, yet much more green and with far fewer people. There are many more plant/flower shops here than in Tokyo (some pictures of one are near the bottom). The drink machines were still around, but probably only once every three or so blocks instead of a few on each block. We passed a cute park where some kids were playing soccer — we found that kids here usually play sports on a dirt field instead of a grass lawn (we saw this at several schools later too).

We had a blast at the flea market, which started closing as we arrived, but we still got to have a good fill of flea market goodness. It was several blocks long, and went down 2.5 adjacent blocks. There were all sorts of wares for sell from desert foods and cooked meats, live gold fish, clothing, little trinkets, random kid’s toys grab bags (which Teisha couldn’t resist, as shown in the pictures below — mysterious red bags!), little prize games for kids, to silk worm cocoons. (Teisha’s actually raised silkworms several times before and so she was quite amused by the cocoons — apparently they are often used here for moisturizing skin, and not necessarily spinning silk — they were for sell in another shop we saw later.) We limped back to the hotel after the market to discover that most of Kyoto shuts down at 5PM… not really sure why, but I guess it’s a bit of a sleepy town. Later we found some more night-active parts, but it’s pretty limited.

Near the bottom of the pictures are more of Kyoto in general and the last seven pictures are our Kyoto hotel room. We decided to stay at the Japanese Guesthouse Ikoi-no-ie. It’s a lot smaller than our Tokyo room was, and not quite as nice, and so we debated about changing hotels when we got here but I think we’ll stay here. More pictures of the room to come. It has internet in the room like the other place, which is a big plus. When the beds are rolled out, they take up the entire space in the bedroom (the only room other than the closet-sized bathroom) except for a 6′ by 3′ area where we’ve piled our laptop and suitcases, etc. Almost all of one whole wall is the classic Japanese-style paper wall (I feel I should know this word), and the other walls are super thin too. The adjoined bathroom is basically big enough for two people to stand in (one in the tub, one by the toilet) and that’s all the space there is. We feel very Japanese staying in this room.

Tomorrow — to the hot springs and discovering where all the people hide in Kyoto when the sun goes down!


2 Responses to “Day 7 of Japan: To Kyoto and Kitano Tenmangu Shrine Flea Market”

[…] small our first place was (not to mention we were right by an alley with paper-thin walls — read the details here), but this new room had its own gravel entrance off of the main building, tucked in the back, and […]

Paradoxdruid’s Rants » Blog Archive » Day 12 of Japan: Kinkaku-ji Golden Pavillion, Manga Museum, and more Kyoto - June 4th, 2009 at 7:46 pm

[…] to see it from below, which was neat. There was also a Japanese “bullet train” (shinkansin – we’ve ridden on them before in Japan) that kind of put the British trains of the time to shame. The first bullet train came out in 1964, […]

Paradoxdruid’s Rants » Blog Archive » UK Trip 2012, Day 8: York’s National Railway Museum and Arrival in Edinburgh - August 5th, 2012 at 9:48 pm

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