Day 114 – Kyoto, Japan

Hello Kyoto! This morning was a bit of a calf scramble, a term that is never used in Texas, but I thought it was clever. I stayed up until 0200 last night watching The Big Bang Theory (and because I can), so I slept in until about 1030. It would’ve been fine on any other day, except today I was planning on catching a train to Kyoto to meet my cousin from the Philippines. The train wasn’t the issue. The problem was that check-out was promptly at 1100, and they charge $10/hr as a late fee. I’m not one to test the rules in Japan, so I literally jumped out of bed, got ready, threw my stuff in my bags, and hustled downstairs with three minutes to spare!

I went straight to Tokyo Station, which was an adventure in itself. I tried to buy my train ticket on the automated machine but finally gave up and stood in line for an English-speaking staff member. For the record, I would’ve purchased the correct ticket on the machine but there were lots of words that I couldn’t understand, and I was not about to throw away $140 USD on a wrong ticket. It was no problem though, the line went fast and the staff was very nice and helpful. Bullet trains run to Kyoto from Tokyo about every hour, and with my ticket, I was able to catch any train running all day. I found my gate, bought a bento box at the station for lunch and waited on the platform for about twenty minutes until the train arrived.

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Pork katsu bento box for lunch!
I opted for the Nozomi, which is the fastest bullet train from Tokyo to Kyoto. You can actually feel the train speed up as you leave the city. All in all, we covered roughly 350 miles in just about two hours, including 3 stops. I loved watching the city turn to countryside and the mountains in the distance from the window! And the train is incredibly smooth. Still one of my favorite modes of transportation.

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When I arrived in Kyoto Station, I was a little overwhelmed for a second. I found my route to get to my hotel, but it was only accessible via bus or taxi. Taxis in Japan are pretty expensive, so I had to man up and take the public bus. It took me a good while before I figured out exactly which bus stop I needed to be at and which bus I could take since everything was written in Japanese. But eventually I made it.

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I’m staying at a place called The Millennials Kyoto, which is a capsule-style hotel with a modern twist. I absolutely love this place! My cousin, Nika, found the ad and recommended it to me last week. The beds are in individual pods, but unlike a traditional capsule hotel, these pods are actually spacious, the bed is large (it also reclines and folds up into a sofa), and the best part is the hotel has only been open for two weeks, so everything is brand-new! I’ll probably write a formal review later, because I really love this place. I’m considering spending my extra nights in Kyoto just so I can stay here longer. But I’ve got some fun plans for Tokyo…

Anyways, I met up with my cousin at the hotel and we walked around the shops for a bit until we were hungry. I suggested ramen and she suggested Ichiran, so we went to Ichiran. The 5-day streak continues! I honestly was not planning on going back to Ichiran today, but I asked her which ramen was the best and she picked Ichiran over our other contender. And I’m totally okay with that. After getting my ramen badge (I’ve now been to Ichiran Shinjuku, Shibuya, and Kyoto), we walked along the river and then returned to the main street for ice cream. Tomorrow, Nika is taking me out to explore a few must-see spots in Kyoto. Then, I’ve got a surprise for everybody!

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