Welcome to Day 6 of Janet, Randy and Family Japan Adventure 2016
Tuesday, April 12th, 2016
Today we leave behind the lovely Imperial Hotel and head to Kyoto. We went to Starbucks again for breakfast, and ran into the rest of the gang there. They were seated at a communal table with one other guy. There were two other seats available at the table, but when we were finished ordering, we noticed that another guy had placed his backpack on one of the chairs before ordering, so we ended up sitting at the counter by the window instead. That is a thing here in Japan - where people will place their bag or purse on a seat to save it. Next time we will have to do that as well.
After breakfast, we went back to our room and packed up the rest of our stuff before heading down to check out. We then had to get 2 taxis to the train station as there don't seem to be any big SUV taxis here that would fit larger groups. At the train station we were dropped right off at the Shinkansen entrance - which was under construction last time we were in Tokyo. We used our JR Rail passes to get through the gate and then found our platform. We were quite early and had some time to kill before the train arrived. On the platform there are these heated enclosed areas with seats, so we settled in there to wait. Randy took the family to go check out options for buying food for the train. He bought us a couple of bento boxes and these waffle cookie things.
We settled in for the 2 hour 45 minute ride to Kyoto. We had seats in the Green Car (a sort of business class), and we were surprised how full it was, and that there were a number of children in it. On past trips, these cars would be fairly empty at the time of day we normally took them (i.e. - outside of rush hour), and we had never seen children in them before. There was one couple with a 7-month old baby across the aisle from us. The baby was really cute, and luckily wasn't fussy or screaming.
Randy had bought a beer to bring on the train, so we shared that and enjoyed our bento lunches. The food that you buy in the train station is all wrapped up nicely in wrapping paper. So opening our lunch was similar to Christmas morning. We had hoped to see Mount Fuji on the way to Kyoto - but once again we were denied (there were low clouds, so you couldn't see it - even though it was clear blue skies in Tokyo !).
Once we arrived in Kyoto, we found our way to the taxi station and had to take 2 cabs to our hotel - Hotel Mystays Kyoto Shijo. We got to the hotel at around 1:15pm, and were told that check-in time wasn't until 2:00pm. There was a sea of luggage on one side of the lobby of all the people waiting to check in. Rather than sit in the lobby waiting, we decided to walk over to the Nishiki Market to show the family the market. Since we had time, it was a great way to wander around. The market is quite varied in the offerings - fish, vegetables, fruit and other meats, to prepared foods, Tea, clothing and even a couple of knife stores.
We split up so that everyone could do their own thing, but we all ended up back at the hotel at the same time (around 2:45pm). We were able to check in and settle into our rooms. This hotel is not nearly as fancy as the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo (not even close). But as this is the normal cherry blossom season, it was difficult to find any reasonably-priced accommodation during this timeframe. The room is a little small, but we will manage. One thing that is annoying is that you have to re-connect the wifi every time you want to use it. So, if we go out for a few hours, we have to reconnect our iPhone, iPad and laptop all over again. Come on - really?
We spent the next couple of hours planning out how to get to various places from the hotel (bus vs. subway, etc.). Then at 5:30pm we met up with everyone else to go out for supper. We had made a reservation at the Bonheur restaurant at the Kyoto Century Hotel. This hotel was near the train station, so we had to walk a few blocks to a subway station and then take the subway to the train station. The Kyoto Century Hotel was then just a couple blocks away. We arrived right at 6:00pm for our reservation time.
The restaurant was a teppanaki grill. We were shown to a side room that had 2 grills in it. The another party was sat at the other grill, but fortunately they were not loud and noisy like in the okonomiyaki restaurant (with the drunk business people). This restaurant had various set menus you could select that included a number of different courses. All of us but Randy chose the basic set menu - and Randy got one that included wagyu (Kobe) beef. Just prior to the meal, our server came around and placed white linen aprons on all of us, in case we were sloppy and spilled on ourselves. Not that hasn't happened before.
Randy's meal consisted of the following dishes:
The rest of us had the following menu:
We spent the next 2.5 hours getting various courses of our meal. Sometimes we had to wait a bit between courses, because the chef was actually rotating between 3 different tables.
There was a dessert course, but in addition to the regular dessert, the restaurant brought out a special dessert with a candle for Harold and Lil in recognition of their 50th anniversary (when booking the reservation using Open Table, we had mentioned that we were celebrating a 50th). They took some pictures using our camera, and then they took another picture using another camera. Before we left, they brought out a cardboard folder that contained the picture they had just taken of Harold and Lil- as a souvenir of the night. That was really nice of them!
What wasn't so nice was that Harold snuck out to pay for the meal behind our backs. This was supposed to be our treat for their 50th, so he kind of hijacked that for us. Way to go Harry !
After supper, we tried to see if there were any cabs at the Kyoto Station that would fit 6 people. We found a minivan, but he could only fit 5 people. So, we ended up just taking the subway back to our hotel.
I hadn't slept well the night before, and was quite exhausted. I went pretty much straight to bed - and didn't even have the energy to download pictures, let alone work on the journal. Randy said that I started snoring about 20 seconds after my head hit the pillow. I wasn't far behind.
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