Tokyo to Kyoto
5.14.15 - 5.14.15 80 °F
After a leisurely morning - still trying to adjust to a 13 hour time zone change - we took a taxi to the Shinagawa train station to catch the 11:40am Shinkansen (Bullet) train to Kyoto to start the next phase of our adventure. We had purchased a Green Japan Rail pass which we use to get reserved seats on the train. The train itself is wonderful, comfortable and quiet, and cell phone conversations are prohibited except in certain areas of the train car outside of the seating area. The bullet trains are FAST. It's a hoot to travel at 200 miles per hour. It took us 2 hours 30 minutes to get to Kyoto - an average of 120 miles per hour when you took in the five stops we made on the way. Because it was a clear but hazy day, we were able to get a great view of Mount Fuji.
As a matter of convenience we booked ourselves in the five star Hotel Granvia Kyoto, which is right in the train station. It's a huge hotel with more than 500 rooms. The Kyoto train station is a destination in and of itself with a huge shopping mall included within the many floors of the facility. For some reason there were literally thousands of school kids at the station heading somewhere on overnight trips. Literally thousands.... After checking in to our room - I had booked a 'run of the house' room - we got upgraded to a twin minisuite with a walk in closet and a totally electronic toilet that has far more functions than is safe for most people - we headed across the street to the Kyoto Tower. The tower is essentially the Space Needle of Kyoto - which rises about 150 meters above the ground. It offered a great view of the city, but was jittering a little bit in the wind.
Tomorrow we are catching a 7:20am train to make the trek to Hiroshima to witness ground zero, followed by Miyajima where there is a famous shrine.