Welcome to Day 8 of Janet, Randy and Family Japan Adventure 2016
Thursday, April 14th, 2016
Today Harold, Lil and Kay were going to go to Hiroshima for the day. We had offered to guide them to the Kyoto station and take them to the track where their Shinkansen train was leaving from - so we met up at 7:00am in the lobby.
We walked to the subway station and took the subway to Kyoto station. We then walked them to the Shinkansen platform that their train was leaving from. As we all had JR Rail passes, we were able to go into the departures area with them by just by showing our passes. We hung around for a bit, but then Randy, Bea and myself left them to go have some breakfast at Starbucks.
We went across the street from the train station to a Starbucks at the base of the Kyoto tower. Randy was wearing a shirt with Buddha faces on it that he bought in Thailand, and the gal taking his order said how much she liked it. Then when we got our drinks, she had drawn a picture of a Buddha face on our cup! Too funny - it was awesome. She told me that she loved the shirt, but couldn't wear it. Well ya, that's because I'm wearing it !
We enjoyed our breakfast, then Bea decided to walk back to the hotel and Randy and I headed back to the train station to catch a train to Fushimi-Inari. We arrived just before 9:00am, and the place was already packed with school kids. So apparently this week is some sort of Kyoto travel week for school kids. The whole place was swarming with people, so we tried to climb up through the Tori gates a ways to get away from most of the crowd. Last time we were here, we had only walked a short distance, so this time we wanted to walk a little further. It was definitely worthwhile going a little farther as there were some interesting smaller shrines along the way - some people praying at these smaller shrines - it was just very cool to witness and it was very peaceful once we were off the beaten path.
There are over 4 kilometers (actually 10 Km) of Tori gates, but we didn't climb all the way to the top as it was starting to get warm out and I was getting a little tired from the climb (I estimate we walked about a 1/3 of the way through - There is a sign along the path that reads if you walk 5 Km, you will have seen 175,000 Tori gates, 6 - 383,000, up to 10km where you will have seen 1,302,000 Tori gates. It's really quite impressive). Instead of going back the same way we went up, we went back a less-travelled route. There weren't a lot of Tori gates along this path, but there were a lot of small little shrines. It was also nice and peaceful as there were few people along the trail. We had stopped along the way as it was getting warm and we were getting a bit hot, we stopped at a vending machine where we got a drink. There was another (Japanese) couple that had also stopped, and when they went to leave they offered us each a little treat. It was very sweet of them and we thanked them for it. It was very heartwarming.
Once we got to the bottom (and made our way through the crowds again), we caught the train back to the Kyoto station. We were thinking of going back to Kiyomizudera to maybe take more pictures, but then we saw the huge line-up for the bus that we would have to take. We were a little tired, so we decided to try taking some time-lapse photos in the train station instead (see it here). We happened to be close to the Isetan department store that is in the station, so Randy wanted to go look for a belt (as his jeans were loose and kept falling down). We did manage to find a belt - but as Japanese department stores are mostly high-end goods, the belt cost around $100 (ugh). But, at least it is a good leather belt and he will be able to use it in the future.
With Randy's pants now securely fastened (which is good, because I'm sure that the Japanese don't need to see my junk), we thought we would go to our favourite kaiten (conveyor belt) sushi restaurant in the station for lunch. It took us a bit to find the restaurant again, but once there we only had a short wait until we were seated. We enjoyed some delicious sushi and ended up chatting with the couple sitting next to us - who were from San Francisco. After having our fill, we decided to walk to the nearby Bic Camera as our DSLR camera battery wasn't holding a charge very well - so we wanted to get a new one. The batteries were not out on display, so we had to ask someone for it. They then rang us up, and then as a surprise, the gal grabbed a couple of little Kit Kat bars and gave them to us. I don't think I've ever been given chocolates before at an electronics shop (it was a very pleasant surprise !)
On our way out of Bic Camera we had to walk past the alcohol section, so of course we had to stop and buy some sake (it was calling to me !). By this time we were both quite weary from being on our feet and carrying our camera and tripod (and now booze) - so we just grabbed a cab back to the hotel instead of taking the subway.
Once in our room, we decided to lie down and have a snooze. We both passed out quite quickly and had a good sleep. I slept so well that I think there was drool involved. After our nap, we decided to head over to the Nishiki Market. There was a knife store in the market that we wanted to check out as my brother had bought some high-performance nail clippers there - and he has always raved about them. He had given us the coordinates of the store, but when we got there, the store wasn't open (the shutter door was pulled down). I'm not sure if the shop is closed on Thursdays, or if the shop is no longer there. We will try going back again another day before we leave Kyoto (as we are within walking distance of the market). I'm sure it's just closed on that day of the week.
We started heading back to the hotel, and stopped in at Daimuru department store to see if they carried any clippers. We did find some in the knife department - but we thought we would hold off buying any until we find out if the other store is actually open on another day. We continued back to the hotel where we relaxed for a bit until it was time to meet up with Aunt Bea.
The three of us then took the subway back to the train station to meet Randy's parents and other aunt when they got back from Hiroshima. We went right to the platform that they were arriving on and met them there. We then took everyone to the same sushi restaurant that we had eaten at for lunch. There was a line to get in, and we ended up waiting about half an hour. We lucked out with 4 seats becoming available next to each other - so Randy's parents and aunts sat there. Then 2 minutes later, two more seats opened up and we were seated in a different section. The food was just as good as we remembered from lunch time (ha ha), and we ate our fill (again - maybe a few more plates this time).
We finished our meal before the rest of the gang, so we paid up and decided to just wander around outside for a bit. We immediately ran into the same couple from San Francisco that we had met at lunch time. So, we had a nice chat until the rest of Randy's family was finished with their meal.
Just down from the restaurant was a JR Rail ticket office. Randy's mom and aunts were planning on going to a place called Mio - where their parents were originally from. This is a 2-hour train ride away from Kyoto. Randy's aunt had done some investigation to find out the train they needed to get, so we went in to actually make the reservations for their trip on Sunday. Then we caught the subway back to the hotel, where we grabbed our sake and sat in the hotel lobby to figure out what the three sisters were going to do once they got to Mio.
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