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Nishiki market store Kyoto Japan

Japan: Kyoto – Nishiki market and Teramachi

Date: 22nd March, 2015

After exploring Gion, I crossed over to the other side of Shijo Street.

Sticky rice bbq sweet
I forgot what this was called. Mitarashi Dango? Essentially pounded sticky rice grilled and then coated with sweetened soy sauce. It was chilly and I felt like eating something hot.
Narrow lane Kyoto Japan
I walked around a bit and found myself in a narrow lane full of bars
Kyoto bar Japan
Quite trendy and discreet
Stream Kyoto city Japan
Back out in the open
Crab restaurant Kyoto Japan
No guesses as to what this restaurant specializes in
Teramachi shopping street
That crab restaurant was the end of the Teramachi shopping arcade
Teramachi street Kyoto Japan
Teramachi pretty big and these arcades are spread across for much of Shijo Street
Kyoto shopping district Japan
But I was trying to find Nishiki Market, as it was getting late

Continue reading “Japan: Kyoto – Nishiki market and Teramachi” »

Kimono girls Gion Kyoto Japan

Japan: Kyoto – Nishi & Higashi Honganji, Shijo street, and Gion

Date: 22nd March, 2015

After arriving in Kyoto by bullet train and checking in to Shiori-an Guesthouse, I began my sightseeing walk around Kyoto. Nishi and Higashi Honganji, two Shin Buddhism temples, were close to where I was staying, so I first went there.

Kyoto cats neko Japan
Saw a lot of furry cats outside the temples
Higashi Honganji buddhist temple Kyoto Japan
There was massive renovation work undergoing at sections of the Nishi Honganji complex
Plastic covers for shoes Kyoto temple
You cannot enter the temple with footwear. You have remove your shoes, carry them in these plastic bags and only then climb up the steps.
Higashi Honganji wood pillars Kyoto Japan
This temple hall was built in 1895 and claims to be the largest structure made entirely of wood

Or so it claims. I don’t know if it still remains the largest wooden structure, especially after having seen The Sanctuary of Truth in Pattaya which uses a heck lot of teak wood.

Continue reading “Japan: Kyoto – Nishi & Higashi Honganji, Shijo street, and Gion” »

Shinkansen N700 bullet train Kyoto station

Japan: Riding a bullet train for the first time, Tokyo to Kyoto

Date: 22nd March, 2015

It was another early morning wake up for me. Yesterday was a pleasant first day of sightseeing in Akihabara and Ginza, but it was time to leave Tokyo already. My plan was to go to Kyoto and Himeji before returning to Tokyo in time (hopefully) for the sakura bloom across the city. I planned to go to Kyoto by the Nozomi shinkansen — the fastest bullet train in Japan. The Nozomi (N700 series) travels at a top speed of 300km/hr, whereas the Hikari trains run slightly slower and stop at a lot more stations. This being my first time in a bullet train, I figured I might as well experience the best.

I bought my ticket at the counter at Tokyo station. It cost ¥13080 (₹7100/$109/€96) — a lot of money for a one way trip. But I really wanted to get on the fastest train in Japan. For those who are wondering why I didn’t buy a JR Pass, the minimum cost of a JR Rail Pass is ¥29,110 (₹15810/$243/€215) and that’s valid for 7 days. Now, as per my itinerary, I would be taking at the most 3 train trips and after calculating the cost of each journey (you can do that on this website), I realized I would be spending slightly less than that. Also, the Nozomi trains are not included in the JR Passes, which is stupid because the fares for some routes are the same whether you ride the Nozomi or the Hikari.

Tokyo railway station shinkansen line
Tokyo station is so huge that it can often be a bit confusing at first
Tokyo shinkansen station platforms
Fortunately Tokyo station has English-speaking staff to help confused-looking first time tourists like me

I had to board my train quickly as I only had a few minutes before its scheduled departure. For routes on the Tōkaidō line, there are trains leaving every 10 minutes or so. The bullet trains don’t stay too long on one platform — and if you haven’t heard, the trains in Japan are extremely punctual! I couldn’t even take a photo of the train before it departed because I was rushing to get in before the doors closed.

Inside Nozomi shinkansen Tokyo
I quickly got into the car/coach which was nearest to me as soon as I entered the right platform. I knew this wasn’t my seat but I figured I would move to my seat after the car doors closed and the train began to move.
Inside bullet train Tokyo Japan
The regular cars have a 3 by 3 seating arrangement. The premium Green cars have 2 seats on either side of the aisle. You have reserved (pre-reserved) and un-reserved seat cars too.
Tokyo neighbourhood houses Japan
The bullet train does not travel very fast while cruising through Tokyo

It was past Yokohama that the Nozomi really started to hit top speed, and you could feel it! Like the force pushing your body back as the velocity increased. After I felt stabilized, I got up to find the right car and my seat as per my ticket. Continue reading “Japan: Riding a bullet train for the first time, Tokyo to Kyoto” »

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