I was very paranoid about missing the Bullet Train to Kyoto. My tickets were non-refundable so I didn’t want to risk being late. Therefore, I showed up 3 hours early ha. I was able to leave my big bag and a small shopping bag at my hostel which helped. It is possible to take luggage on these trains from what I read, but it’s a hassle. There isn’t a ton of room and there are a lot of stairs. Basically, you can do it but everyone what look at you annoyed. I’m sure that’s not the case when you know what you’re doing, but for a newbie I didn’t want to risk it. UPDATE: Having done it now, I totally could have brought my bag on. Actually, it would have been nice to have my other things, but at the same time it was nice not to have to lug it around.
Upon arriving at the station, I went to a Dean & Deluca to pass the time. Then I found my platform and discovered it was the wrong platform (I’m glad I asked someone) and went to my correct platform. The bullet train arrived, was cleaned very quickly (bullet speed you might say LOL) and then boarded just as quickly, in under 5 minutes. I enjoyed looking out the window and the more rural countryside, but it was moving so fast that I eventually had to stop because it was making me ill. I made sure to look again as we passed Mt. Fuji.
I noticed that the all of the train workers kept pointing randomly thoroughout the trip. I knew it must have had a meaning so I googled it. Turns out, Japan has one of the safest train systems in the world and thats partially because they make all of their employees do a hand and sometimes vocal cue with their assigned task. So when they glance to make sure the speedometer is the right speed, they actually point at it. Its a funny thing to witness, but I surely appreciate it! It also made me think to google for what the yellow line on the sidewalks were intended. I was happy to learn that my assumption was correct! They have these yellow raised lines and occasionally bumps on the sidewalks that indicate to those are visually impaired when they should stop and where to turn. Two hours of googling things and watching Outlanders on my phone (by the way, I don’t recommend watching Outlanders in public for reasons only those who watch would understand) hours later, I arrived in Kyoto. I plugged in my hostel and was pleased to see it was only a 5 minute walk from the station! I was extremely happy to be in Kyoto, the air was fresh, navigating was easy and everyone seemed very friendly.
I decided to go to a donut shop that I had found on Instagram so I began walking there. I was glad that everything was so walkable, it reminded me a lot of Chiang Mai, but colder of course. I’ve certainly taken my share of daily steps, which is probably a good things since I’ve been eating so many sweets 😉 Sadly, the donut shop was temporarily closed! Instead I stopped at a place to eat. I ordered vegetable tempura with soba noodle ramen. It was SO good! I also enjoyed a glass of Sauvingon Blanc which was a nice change after having mostly been drinking Sake in Tokyo.
I continued my walk home with a brief stop at what I thought was a costume shop (I love Halloween) but upon entering realized that I just entered a 4 story sex store. The entrance was not the same as the exit so I got lost in a maze of XXX toys and movies before I made my escape. I also made one other pit stop to get some water from a vending machine and some Japanese sweets from a grocery store. Continuing to walk, it was dark and less busy, yet I noticed still at every cross walk no one would cross until the light was green, even if there are no cars in sight. Noted for later so I don’t make a fool of myself being a hasty American 😉