Sunday, August 20, 2023

Bullet Train from Tokyo to Kyoto With My Bros

Today was exciting because we packed up camp and moved from Tokyo to Kyoto. You might notice that both cities have the "kyo" syllable in them. That character means "capital". Kyoto was the capital for over a thousand years up until 1868, and its name means "capital city". Tokyo's name, on the other hand,  means "eastern capital".

After years of packing light I now feel like we have the luggage of a traveling circus.

Ernie was about to travel faster than a speeding bullet: shinkansen.

While we waited for our train I grabbed us a couple of bento boxes. This is a fun part of long train rides in Japan.

This box had another picture of nihonbashi, as we saw on our eel boxes recently during lunch. It means "bridge to Japan" because it was the starting point of highways that reached throughout the country.

There were all kinds of strange and exotic foods in these boxes. Sadly these things were lacking the chocolate box map that they sorely needed.

There was a fun area where people were selling what seemed to be more small business type food.

I bought Lydia some matcha flavored warabi mochi as a little treat for my treat.

I never really considered how much eating a big pile of flavored gelatin is sort of like the halwa of the Muslim world.

Ernie has been enjoying his new chewy toy with his incoming teeth.

Lydia tried Starbucks' Gaburi Suika Frappuccino. This is Japan's "first-ever nationwide watermelon Frappuccino". Suika means "watermelon" and gaburi means "big bite".

Finally we were able to board our ground-based rocketship. We booked the Nozomi train which is the fastest.

Ernie has the need for speed.

Buddy nap!

We got some good views of the countryside.

We stayed at the MIMARU KYOTO NIJO CASTLE which was kind of fun because it had a traditional style and even had a tatami room.

We randomly stopped at this curry house and it was a great choice.

I was amused by all of the curry diplomas that had been awarded to the staff. Their parents must be very proud.

It's funny, when I used to live in Springfield or St. Louis, coming to Japan was an experience of just walking around and having my mind blown over and over until exhaustion. Now that we live in Seattle I realize that we are much closer to the Asian pulse day to day. For example, there's a Nana's Green Tea joint in Bellevue that we've been to a couple of times. That was kind of a sad realization in a way, because it makes Japan less amazing, but being able to eat their cool desserts anytime I want is a good thing I guess.

Anytime I saw a reference to Ritsumeikan University where I studied on two separate occasions I got major nostalgia. Going off plan with Ernie is a huge undertaking but if it was just the two of us I may have had to kidnap Lydia and make her relive my memories on campus with me.

Kyoto's metro system is much smaller and more difficult to use. In fact I rarely remember using it at all as a student.

Fushimi Inari-taisha is one of those places that you'll see on a travel agency Japan poster. It's a pretty cool looking place. We came here after dark to escape the heat, but it was still disgustingly hot. It was even hotter in Kyoto than it was in Tokyo, and the subway was much less able to serve as a refuge for us. Tough times.

You can see a little fox kitsune statue over my shoulder. The fox is the messenger of the Shinto god Inari, "the Japanese kami of foxes, fertility, rice, tea and sake, agriculture and industry, general prosperity and worldly success, and one of the principal kami of Shinto."

Nothing cements the fact that you are indeed going to be sweaty than having a chubby man in direct contact with you for extended periods of time. No air will be reaching your body, no help will arrive. You will be hot today.

The shrine is notable because it has roughly 10k of these red torii gates.

Kyoto Tower was looking lovely in the night sky.

Kyoto Tower reflected in the glass monstrosity that is Kyoto Station.

We ended up having to take a bus home which was a first. They are a little bit less user friendly than the metro but we figured it out like geniuses.

Surviving long enough to experience the hotel air conditioning is a daily opportunity for celebration.

Ernie was asleep so we had a sushi party in the bathroom.

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