Japan 2012 Travel Diary, Day 13

japan2012logo-day13

We intended to start Sunday’s shopping finale by getting away at 9am. Sadly, an amazingly comfy bed encouraged us to take it a bit easier and by the time we found our way to Harajuku it was closer to midday 😛

[singlepic id=1129 w=480 h=360 float=center]

The Harajuku run started with a trip to the bargain store Daiso. We had been making a habit of dropping into ¥100 stores during the trip for bargain hunting/amusement, so a multi-story Daiso packed into Harajuku was, not surprisingly, amazingly good fun! We grabbed a few more goodies for ourselves and friends and family back home while we were there for a ridiculously cheap cost, including stacks of Japanese lollies and chocolates to enjoy when we got home!

[singlepic id=1130 w=480 h=360 float=center]

From there we wandered to the tip of Otomesando-dori to grab a crepe and go cosplay hunting. Sadly we only found one pair of cosplayers (not sure if we were in the wrong spot in Harajuku or maybe we were too early in the day), so we headed over to Yoyogi Park to watch the locals relaxing on a Sunday and the rockers showing off their amazing pompadours.

[singlepic id=1131 w=360 h=480 float=center]

It was really cool to spend a little bit of time chilling out and watching what the locals were up to on a Sunday – a guy was playing a guitar on a bench under some shade, groups of teens were playing badminton and soccer, and in the distance we saw a group of people dancing it up. Young families were out with their kids and dogs, but everyone was just relaxed and enjoying the sunshine and awesome weather.

[singlepic id=1132 w=480 h=360 float=center]

After polishing off a bite to eat, it was time to jump back on the Yamanote Line to visit Shibuya. While there Wifey did some much-needed shopping and we also hopped down to the Bingo second hand clothing store located in the basement of the Shibuya Book Off we visited when we were in Tokyo previously to see if anything interesting had found their way to the shelves in our absence.

[singlepic id=1133 w=360 h=480 float=center]

After dodging the hordes of gaijin and the impressive cache of locals (and getting some photos of some street art down one of the side alleys, JSR-style!), we were back on the Yamanote line for our last portion of the shopping day – Akihabara Mk. 2!

For this run I dropped Wifey off at the Caffe Excelsior opposite the UDX building (passing what looked like a group of protestors bearing cosplay outfits and someone who was wearing a Gundam mask) and started the final hunt.

[singlepic id=1135 w=360 h=480 float=center]

First stop was Gamers, a place I’d wanted to visit since getting on the DiGi Charat train back in 2000. Sadly, the multi-floor building was a disappointment, catering to the creepy otaku with long pillows with arrays of moe (including selected pillows with squishy bits for the characters’ breasts), porn, DVDs and BRDs, more porn, cosplay, and a bit more porn. Bummer.

With a hasty exit I figured I’d visit Kotobukiya (we stumbled across it when running the maid gauntlet during our last trip – it’s close to Super Potato!) and then check out the Hard Off I missed next to Mandarake during the previous visit. Because I’m special, I promptly got lost for 15 minutes before finding my way back to Hard Off/Mandarake (should have listened to my initial instincts and walked where I thought I needed to go).

Kotobukiya proved to be great fun for this second round of shopping (picked up some anime stuff), but the trip to Hard Off wasn’t worth it, as it specialised in audio equipment and little else. While this wouldn’t be a bad thing in ordinary circumstances (while I don’t know a lot, I enjoy looking and learning about amplifiers and what-not), I was trying to go as fast as possible because I was conscious of not being too much of a pain in the rear since Wifey was at this stage getting to the end of the coffee/cake set at Excelsior.

So I jumped next door to Mandarake, this time appreciating the slight price increase in Akiba vs Nipponbashi. That being said, there was also plenty there I couldn’t find in Akihabara, and Mandarake is generally a very easy to use store for nerdy stuff. I ended up grabbing a handful of gear for the PSone, Saturn (including Street Fighter Zero 3!), Mega Drive, Mega CD and Super Famicom; SFZ3 was the most expensive at around ¥7,000, the rest of the gear was pretty reasonably priced, especially the PSone games. I managed to nab Keio Yugekitai for the Mega CD in great condition complete for around ¥1,300, so that was pretty cool too!

After finishing up there I texted Wifey and picked her up, then dropped past the Tokyo Anime Centre just up the escalators on the second level of the UDX building to see if we missed anything (picked up an awesome Macross t-shirt!), then off we went to have a look at Liberty and Traders 1, 3 and 4, all of which came up blanks for anything other than current gen systems of PS2/PSone, and at this stage I had crossed both of them off my to-get list owing to a lot of success grabbing titles for them in the wild.

This then led us back to Super Potato for some more nerding – I grabbed a couple of Dreamcast, Saturn and possibly also some Super Famicom gear (memory is a bit hazy!). With Super Potato sorted, we then went to the Sofmap wedged between the two Club Sega arcades on the main strip. The reason for the extra trek was to nab a cheap DS Lite (¥2000) as they were getting rid of them nice and cheaply (this one was in great shape physically, it just needs the fuses replaced which is pretty easy to do).

We finished up by heading into Club Sega where I played a round of Virtual On Oratario Tangram on a dedicated cab, then a couple of rounds of Super SF2: Hyper Anniversary Edition, where I got owned by someone using an M. Bison/Vega exploit by timing the psycho crusher to hit when I got up without the chance of blocking.

Normally this kind of play would piss me off, but I managed to get a few hits in before I got taken out in a succession of cheap shots, and playing against someone in an arcade in Japan was still a thrill at this stage so it didn’t really bother me 🙂 We left via the bottom floor where I failed to win a plushie from one of the crane games (got close though!) but took a couple of the Sega plushie bags as a souvenir from the trip 🙂

[singlepic id=1136 w=480 h=360 float=center]

So with the shopping out of the way, we hit the subway and braved the rush to head back to Maihama and grabbed some delicious home-style pork and fried rice from one of the vendors before heading home.

[singlepic id=1137 w=480 h=360 float=center]

The early night didn’t really happen, but it still made for an entertaining day 🙂

To view all posts on the Japan 2012 Travel Diary, just use the 2012 Japan Trip tag, as the whole series will be added to it over time.

Share

Japan 2012 Travel Diary, Day 9

japan2012logo-day98

The original plan for Hiroshima was to head to Miwajima in the morning before jumping on another Shinkansen to Osaka, but Wifey was still struggling with her cold/flu bug so we decided to have a bit of a sleep in to rest up, had the hotel hold our bags then went to spend some more time exploring around where we were staying in Hiroshima.

[singlepic id=1088 w=360 h=480 float=center]

It’s a pity we only stayed overnight as Hiroshima is a beautiful city that balances the new and the traditional sides of Japan, with an amazing social history and is super clean and pristine. We went for another wander down Hondori and a few other spots locally, stopping for lunch at a Doutor for a lunch of lettuce dogs (!), matcha cake (again) and some tea. While we were there an old lady wandered up to our table for a chat – turns out her son and his family live in Canada and we had a chat that intermingled between Japanese and English, and at the end of it she also passed along an English guide map of Hiroshima for us. It’s things like this that really make stints overseas memorable, and certainly solidified Hiroshima as a city we wish we had more time enjoy. If we have the opportunity to return to Japan in the future, I know we’ll be earmarking more time to spend here – the city and its people are wonderful, and the Book Off was well-stocked and full of awesome 🙂

[singlepic id=1089 w=480 h=360 float=center]

After lunch we picked up our luggage and jumped on the train back to Shin-Osaka and managed to get in by late-afternoon. Transferring from Shin-Osaka through to Osaka Station we had our first experience of Osaka people – people were actually having animated conversations on the train! In the other places we traveled, the advised maxim of being quiet on public transport (and in public in general) was shunned by a city’s occupants who seemed naturally more boisterous in public than we had noticed elsewhere. Was very interesting and certainly rides home the difference between east/west in Japan!

After arriving at Osaka Station we found our way to the JR Line to take us to our hotel, the Universal Port Hotel located near the Universal Studios amusement park and the adjoining Universal City Walk. Dodging the allure of the Universal City Walk, we exited the station and turned left to take a pedestrian road to get to our destination. The hotel was all sorts of awesome – a porter took our luggage up to our room (I helped her load the bags though, as by this stage our bags were hitting around the 20kg mark and the girl helping us looked like she was going to struggle!), showed us the amenities and complemented me on my command of Japanese; while I think she was only being polite, it was a nice gesture nonetheless!

The hotel room itself was also incredibly spacious – as we went from place to place In Japan the rooms seemed to be getting bigger, and what I loved about this room was that the bathroom was very Japanese – sink grate on the floor with a stool to sit on with the shower head mounted above to wash yourself, and then a full separate bath next to it to unwind and enjoy a furo Japanese style 🙂 Truth be told, I got a little carried away with the bath thing while we were in Japan – most nights after we got back to the hotel I ended up scrubbing down and then relaxing in the tub afterwards 😛

[singlepic id=1090 w=480 h=360 float=center]

But the real magic was the toilet – I’ll let the panel above espouse the majesty (and complexity) of the thing. It was even fitted with an infrared sensor that automatically opened the lid when you entered the separate toilet room. Very 2001/HAL. Oh Kubrick, you so visionary.

[singlepic id=1091 w=480 h=360 float=center]

Now being Australian, the whole Halloween thing isn’t much of a deal down our way, but in Osaka it was on. Probably due to where we were staying, we noticed when we were coming to the train station that the carriages soon became packed with teens and uni students dressed up and ready to have a good time. While Japanese girls generally show off a lot of leg here, everything was out there for Halloween – boobs and legs were equally at ease with some amazing and elaborate costumes.

[singlepic id=1092 w=480 h=360 float=center]

While the guys didn’t seem to get into it as much as the girls, we saw an amazing Edward Scissorhands there, and another dude looked like a stripper cop, complete with fake gun and smoking a cigarette, with his girlfriend also dressed like a stripper cop (the fake gun would also have been a faux pax back home considering how realistic it looked!).

[singlepic id=1093 w=360 h=480 float=center]

Universal City Walk is an amusingly Japanese take on the boardwalk – neon and LCD screens line the multi-story shops, and we checked out the Jump Store (Shounen Jump goodies therein), a collectables shop full of all sorts of Japanese and American paraphernalia (Batman, Superman, Ben 10, Garfield, Aliens, Back to the Future, Astro Boy, etc) which also housed a museum of classic Japanese and American properties. There were also clothes shops selling new and vintage clothing, and plenty of places to eat. After a stop at the awesome Takoyaki Museum (highly recommended!) we tucked into one of the local takoyaki places to dig in while the hilariawesome Takoyaki Museum theme song played over the mall’s PA system. We had saved ourselves for takoyaki until we got to Osaka and the wait was worth it – we picked up a mixed plate of takoyaki with different toppings and washed it down with melon Fanta (tasted just like Midori, but without the fun alcohol content!).

[singlepic id=1094 w=480 h=360 float=center]

After eating some food we ventured back out onto the street to continue checking out stores and go people-watching. There was a great Universal gift store with all sorts of gear – they had a pretty sizable collection of Peanuts goodies there, but that seemed to be common around the traps while we were in Japan, Snoopy & co were regulars on all sorts of gear, from bottled water to plushies. We ended up walking the length of the pedestrian street until we hit the Universal Studios Japan theme park entrance, but we had decided to skip visiting the park while we were in Osaka to occupy ourselves with other stuff. Still, it was cool to see that the theme park was also getting into the Halloween spirit!

[singlepic id=1095 w=480 h=360 float=center]

We grabbed a couple of drinks from the Starbucks at the train station end of the Universal City Walk (noting the crepe stand along the way for another evening when we weren’t stuffed full of takoyaki) to take back to the hotel and were fortunate to have wifi in our room again, so we were able to drop family and friends a quick hello before getting some sleep. Osaka certainly put up an amazing welcome for us after day one.

[singlepic id=1097 w=480 h=360 float=center]

Oh, and a quick update – the last couple of posts had the landscape shots a bit smaller than usual (500px wide vs 750px); I’ve re-uploaded them with slightly larger images and also re-uploaded some of the panorama shots from the Takao climb as well (1200px instead of the 750px versions added previously).

To view all posts on the Japan 2012 Travel Diary, just use the 2012 Japan Trip tag, as the whole series will be added to it over time.

Share

Japan 2012 Travel Diary, Day 8

japan2012logo-day08

Kyoto wound down the temperature on the day we left, to the point where Wifey and I both rugged up in warm jackets as we made the trip from Karasuma-Oike to Kyoto Station. Once we had transferred we hopped onto the Shinkansen to make our way to Hiroshima. Since we were using the JR Rail Pass to cover the trip, we jumped on one of the Sakura trains to get from Kyoto to Osaka (technically Shin-Osaka since that’s the name of the station), then we caught another Shinkansen from Shin-Osaka to Hiroshima. The reason for the two-step process is because only selected Shinkansen travel directly between Kyoto and Hiroshima and these aren’t covered by the rail pass (e.g. the Nozomi train). Still, in total we spent less than two hours for the trip.

We were a little disappointed that Wifey and I weren’t able to get adjoining seats on the Shin-Osaka to Hiroshima part of the trip as all adjoining seats were all booked up, which saw my other half next to a Japanese woman who seemed inclined to partake in the great Japanese tradition of sleeping while on public transport, which left me next to salaryman enjoying some classic Golgo 13 manga. What eventuated was pretty unexpected though, as he started up a conversation on the way to practice his English, which was an unexpected but a really interesting experience. I asked him a few questions on where he was from, Japanese etiquette and the language, and he in turn asked about where I came from and what we’ve up to in Japan. Things took a nerdy turn when we got onto the topic of music and amplifiers, and it was awesome to have a chat to someone with a huge deal of enthusiasm for music and playback equipment, especially since he runs some amazing equipment (delicious tube amps and what-not) as part of his business in the music industry.

[singlepic id=1067 w=480 h=360 float=center]

We got into Hiroshima at around midday, and the temperature was noticeably warmer than Kyoto, once again throwing off any attempt we made to normalise to the weather patterns over here. We caught the number 1 street car (exit the Shinkansen area, turn right and follow the prompts to the bus and tram service) for ¥150 each to the station nearest our one-night stopover hotel, the ANA Crowne Plaza. After dumping our bags we wandered out back into the sunshine (stripping off jackets) and started the trek to the Peace Park. We stopped in at a Japanese restaurant on the way to grab a bite – I jumped aboard the udon train again and grabbed a set that consisted of delicious udon with some shredded pork and a pair of local onigiri; Wifey indulged in some mis-based udon with croquets and onigiri. We then continued the walk over to the museum and encountered a veritable small village of Japanese students that had arrived via a contingent of tour buses. We walked in alongside them, bought our tickets, then walked through the doors.

[singlepic id=1068 w=480 h=360 float=center]

The Hiroshima Peace Park is an altogether sobering yet morbidly fascinating experience. It’s difficult to articulate what it means to walk through the museum, read the stories and watch the footage, but upon leaving you are surrounded by a revulsion for war and the indiscriminate power of atomic warfare. There are displays and scale models of Hiroshima before and after the blast, clothing and other household goods recovered in the aftermath, copies of letters from noted leaders in the sciences and politics that cover the call to action for research into atomic warfare and subsequent protestations of the way in which the research was utilised, the content of which is beyond the scope of this blog – having double-majored in history and Japanese studies at Uni with a general interest in the two World Wars last century, I could wax lyrical on this topic for ages!

What was particularly interesting was the museum’s specific notation of the gaps in Japan’s national education curriculum around the global conflict that resulted in World War 2, as while I was aware of this due to my prior studies, it was refreshing to see this publicly acknowledged in the museum. Again, discussion on how this should be addressed is definitely beyond the scope of this commentary (and to be honest, this discussion isn’t only pertinent to Japan – the US and Australian primary and secondary school curriculums are also lacking in many respects around World War 1 and 2, especially due to how the Cold War’s political environment has had a lasting effect on how different country’s contributions to the conflict are taught), but it was enlightening nonetheless.

[singlepic id=1069 w=360 h=480 float=center]

Outside the museum are extensive green areas and gardens, and while Wifey and I were walking around we were approached by a lot of young Japanese students so they could practice their English for us as part of what looked to be an assignment given to them by their teachers. Part of the questions that had been assigned to them included what we thought was the most impressive thing about Hiroshima – each time I answered by the Peace Park, but I was tempted to put down the big Book Off near Hondori but decided to answer honestly instead of being cheeky 🙂 We found they seemed to gravitate towards me, not too sure why – maybe it was the ranga beard or the nerdy t-shirt. The funny part was after they finished asking questions I’d thank them in Japanese or say some other quip as they left, and they all seemed quite surprised I could speak any of the language! There were a couple of instances where a couple of groups I swear were about to come up to us, but then giggled and ran off. All in all, it was pretty funny and good fun.

[singlepic id=1070 w=480 h=360 float=center]

Across one of the rivers nearby was the remains of one of the buildings that survived the blast, and it was awe-inspiring and humbling to walk past it. I’ve always advocated that anyone in favour of nuclear warfare should go and watch Isao Takahata’s powerful Hotaru no Haka (Grave of the Fireflies), but after visiting the Peace Park, I would also add that to the agenda.

[singlepic id=1071 w=480 h=360 float=center]

Once we had finished wandering through the parklands surrounding the museum we headed to Hondori, one of the more prominent shopping districts in Hiroshima. After checking out a couple of ¥100 shops and hobby stores we came across a Taito Game Station arcade, so of course we had to drop in 🙂

[singlepic id=1072 w=360 h=480 float=center]

Like most of the arcades in Japan, it was a multi-story affair with different games cropping up thematically on each floor. The first two floors were crane games, then after that it got interesting. I ended up settling on a round of Darius Burst, a 4-player cooperative horizontal shmup that runs over three screens for a massive panoramic playing field. After tanking pretty quickly, the allure of Super Street Fighter 4 AE caught me, so I inserted ¥100 and managed to get two credits off it owing to a special happening that week.

[singlepic id=1073 w=480 h=360 float=center]

Now I’ve probably mentioned it earlier, but I’m not very good at SSF4AE – I haven’t invested enough time into it to be any kind of reasonable, so I’ve settled into being comfortable with my status as a Ken scrub 🙂 That being said, at one stage a Japanese gamer sat on the opposite side to challenge me with Ryu, and I managed to actually win the match (as in both rounds)! After chatting with Hollo from Super Gaijin Ultra Gamer and finding out that Japanese players will often go easy on you for round 2 in fighting games only to take you down in the final round, it was pretty cool that I managed to actually win a full match (was very close though!!).

[singlepic id=1086 w=360 h=480 float=center]

However, it was short lived when he jumped in as Juri and tore me a new arsehole, but still, it was so much fun. Despite arcades in Japan having a no-photos policy, Wifey did it gaijin style and took a few snaps using her phone and a bit of footage of me losing, so that was also pretty awesome (even though I lost, because it was in a Japanese arcade) 🙂 On the way out I tried my hand at one of the crane games, but failed. Still, the awesomeness won out, absolutely!

[singlepic id=1087 w=360 h=480 float=center]

At this stage it was getting late in the afternoon and well after the 2pm check-in time for our room, so after walking the length of Hondori we unintentionally took the scenic route back to the hotel, only getting lost once or twice, before finding our way back there. After getting settled in I left Wifey to have some rest (her cold was still kicking pretty hard at this stage) and wondered up the road to visit the Super Bazaar Book Off near Hondori. This place was indeed massive, so this time I thought I’d look for some LDs in addition to games. While I didn’t find any, I did unintentionally walk into two different porn sections before finding the anime and game art books, eventually securing myself a You’re Under Arrest art book that focused purely on the OVAs, which was awesome. From there it was down to the game section, where I nabbed a handful of PSone titles for a pittance, as well as a couple of carts that were pretty inexpensive. After dropping back to the hotel to check on Wifey, it was comfort food time so back up the road to Hondori to drop into Lotteria for our first take on Japanese burgers. With some food and a couple of drinks from some vending machines on the way to the hotel (with a stop at a convenience store for some throat lozenges), we finished up the night tucking into our food and watching a movie before getting some sleep.

To view all posts on the Japan 2012 Travel Diary, just use the 2012 Japan Trip tag, as the whole series will be added to it over time.

Share

Japan 2012 Travel Diary, Day 5

japan2012logo-day05

Saturday saw us packing up, checking out and heading down to Shinjuku Station to transfer to Tokyo Station in order to jump onto the Shinkansen to visit our next stop – the cultural center of Japan, Kyoto.

One of the advantages of the Japan Rail Pass for foreign travellers is that the Kodoma, Hikari, Mizuho and Sakura Shinkansen lines are covered in your pass, which makes it easy to travel from different parts of the country to another. We spent a little bit extra to have access to the Green Car, which is a slightly more fancy way of travelling. The Green Cars have more leg room, more likely to have extra seats to stow luggage and nicer seats, but not every Shinkansen line will have Green Cars as parts of the service so do your homework – for what it’s worth, we were able to secure Green Cars for all our Shinkansen travels around the country for our trip.

Shinkansen only depart from selected stations in Tokyo – from the main Tokyo station, as well as from Shinagawa. We were contemplating grabbing the train from Shinagawa (so travelling from Shinjuku to Shinagawa on one of the JR lines) in case Tokyo was too crazy, but we ended up going back to the original plans we made before arriving in Japan and braved the early morning rush hour in Tokyo Station. Our car was pretty empty for the most part, so I whipped out the iPad to start writing up these series of blogs as we were getting home pretty late during the first leg of the trip and scribbling the day’s events weren’t as high on the priority list as kicking back, taking a nice Japanese bath and watching a movie before going to bed.

Having lived in Australia all our lives, the Shinkansen are a revelatory establishment – the speed these things travel at are amazing, and from what I understand, the Nozomi Shinkansen is even faster. We hammered through the concrete jungle in no time and soon enough we started seeing the quasi-industrial fringes, followed by semi-rural Japan. Amazing stuff. There were also attendants going through the carriages with snacks and drinks if you’re so inclined – we had picked up some goodies before heading out so we didn’t bother (Pocky FTW!).

We got into Kyoto just after midday (so around 3 hours in the train), and the difference between the two cities was absolutely tangible. While Kyoto wasn’t dead by any stretch of the imagination (compared to travelling in Australia it was positively busy), it was nowhere near the insanity of Tokyo. We also found out pretty quickly that Kyoto isn’t as idiot-proof for gaijin, so we had to kick our brains into gear to concentrate a bit harder on where to go. It wasn’t difficult, but you had to put in a little more effort, and let’s face it, part of the fun of travelling is doing the whole sink/swim thing and experiencing life outside a cultured tourist-friendly environment.

Once we loaded up with a couple of subway tickets (¥210 each, as there’s always the option of using the fare adjustment machine when you arrive at the exit gates) we jumped aboard one of the Karasuma Line trains to arrive at Karasuma Oike. After jumping out of the subway and dragging our heavy suitcases up a few flights of stairs, we wandered up Karasuma-Dori and checked into our hotel, the Hotel Monterey Kyoto (and lucky for us, despite it not being check-in time, our rooms were ready).

At this point Wifey was starting to start suffering the telltale affects of a cold, and combined with an empty stomach, it was time to grab a bite to eat le viagra sans ordonnance. On the way to the Nishiki Markets we stumbled across an udon place that seemed to be teeming with customers, so we jumped in for a whirl. We both grabbed a basic bowl of udon, broth and some veggies and sliced pork, then as we wandered down the line they had some extras to add on, so on went some karage and crumbed miniature hard-boiled eggs on skewers.

Once food was sorted, we wandered the final distance to the Nishiki Makets. The place was awesome, a hive of measured activity with Japanese and gaijin flowing down the central lane with an assortment of souvenir shops, food stalls, speciality goods (including some pricey but beautiful handicrafts) and at least one ¥100 bargain store which Wifey insisted in entering.

Once you got to the end of the Nishiki Markets, it opens up to a modern undercover strip mall that runs along Teramachi-dori. After aimlessly wandering about the place for a while we decided to head back, this time going via Rokkaku-dori. On the way I spotted an upstairs nerd store next to a convenience store, as well as another place advertising LDs in addition to CDs and videos for sale. At this stage Wifey was feeling positively knackered from the onset of her cold, so I chalked these down in my head to visit later as we headed back to the hotel.

After getting her settled and taking advantage of the awesome complimentary wifi in our rooms, I found out where the nearest Book Off was located and went for a walk, intending to visit it and check out the other stores along Rokkaku-dori on the way. The LD store was sadly void of any LDs, but they did have some awesome classic Japanese vinyl that was fun to look through. Next up was the otaku store, which was a fruitless but hilarious adventure into the seedy side of nerd culture over here. Upstairs was a labyrinth of ecchi figures, dedicated ladies area for all their shounen-ai adventures, another area for eroge PC games and eventually I unintentionally stepped into the porn area where all manner of amusing/disturbing stuff assaulted the senses.

Bemused, I wandered out and back onto the street to continue my journey to the local Book Off. I found out something quite handy though – in light of the awful Maps app on iOS 6 (seriously, the thing redefines awful, and as of this blog post there is finally a dedicated Google Maps app so I can stop using the useless default), I found out that the Google Map I brought up through Safari was happy to function when disconnected from data and relied purely on the GPS functionality to help guide me to my location. To my surprise, I ended up back at the Teramachi shopping mall, and proceeded to follow this up Sanjo-dori to get to my destination. On the way I was fortunate to see how Kyoto transformed from afternoon to evening, with kids riding their bikes home from school or practice, parents taking their kids to the local parks after school, teenagers heading out all dressed up for the night and salarymen finishing up for the day.

Eventually after crossing two rivers (one small and one big), I came upon the impressive Book Off situated opposite the Sanjo subway station. I’m not sure how long I spent there, but I managed to pick up a small pile of titles on my to-get list once again, with an emphasis on cheap PSone titles much akin to the other Book Off stores (averaging, once again, about ¥100 per title).

Nerd shopping done, it was time to head back to the hotel (with Kyoto now in the full swing of evening) and, of course, time to pickup something for dinner. I ended up dropping into a bakery to grab a variety of yummy savoury and sweet things, then exhausted a couple of convenience stores to get some drinks and some cereal for brekkie. Unfortunately there was no luck on the cereal front, so I grabbed some fresh bananas instead.

While the day ended a little earlier than others, it was an awesome way to induct ourselves into Kyoto life. What was interesting from our experience of day one (and this would be a recurring theme for Kyoto) is that the pace is much more relaxed than in Tokyo, and while I expected there was going to be a change, I didn’t realise how pronounced it would be. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing by any means, just an observation I wanted to share.

To view all posts on the Japan 2012 Travel Diary, just use the 2012 Japan Trip tag, as the whole series will be added to it over time.

Share
Share

Sponsored