Not a good night. Despite being in bed around 10.30pm we were both still wide awake at 2pm and then only dozed fitfully thereafter. I really hate jet lag as there is nothing you can do once it hits. We don’t very often fly West to East apart from coming home from the USA. At least when it happens at home you can get up and make a drink etc. Stuck in our bijoux room we had nowhere to go or do. At least we were both suffering as if it had just been one of us keeping the other awake it would have been annoying.
Today was our first moving day. Early into breakfast we found the boiled eggs today. I was brave and tried one first and they were OK. We were both worried in case when I cracked mine we found that they were actually still raw. By 9am we heading back to the local station to travel the one stop to the main Tokyo Station. We flashed our Rail passes and were given our reservations for our first ever bullet train.
Disappointingly the train was waiting on the platform for us as I had wanted to see it pull into the station. Everyone queued very orderly for the doors to open at their correct carriage. Interestingly we had been asked if we wanted a smoking carriage, which we of course declined. For a such forward thinking nation they are lagging behind on the banning smoking stakes. People can still smoke in bars and restaurants. Fortunately so far we have positioned well away from anyone actually doing so.
We had to stow our luggage including the big cases on the overhead racks above our reserved seats. This was no mean feat considering the weight of Karen’s case and involved a full body grab and lift from me.
The train departed on time to the second. The carriage was new and the journey was very smooth. There was no sense of the actual speed we were travelling at (I believe it should have been around 192mph). There was excellent free Wifi and a regular trolley service. It may us smile that whenever a member of staff entered or left the cabin that they had to bow to everyone in the carriage.
When we were going past Mount Fuji which was on the other side of the train to us, the kind Japanese people opposite told us and invited us to look out of their window. It looked just like it should from the guide books.
Two things have surprised me so far this trip. The first is the overwhelming friendliness, kindness and respect we have had from almost everyone we have encountered. I think it must either be just the obnoxious Japanese people that get go abroad and get in my way on other holidays or more likely those people are actually from other countries other than Japan. The second is that I expected everyone to up with and using the latest technology. So far I have seen no evidence of that. In fact in Starbucks I sat next to a girl who was using a Casio type device that I haven’t seen for 20+ years. I could see it was using a primitive type of DOS and she was typing using a Japanese script. At first I thought it was a trendy cool retro device but I don’t think it was. Then on this train I could see someone using a Walkman device playing cassette tapes. This looked an old well used one as well. I had expected to be greeted by dancing robots, people wearing VR Headsets and operating devices by thought control alone whilst hovering on jet boots. Perhaps Neil will take me to the places where these people hang out when he arrives.
Karen started to get agitated as we got near to Kyoto. She was worried about getting off the train in time, before it left on schedule regardless. So to alleviate her worries I had the luggage off the racks as we pulled into the station. We had little trouble getting out of the station and taking the short walk to our Hotel. Pleasingly our room was ready so we went straight up. This was about 6 inches wider than the last one so felt enormous. In reality I do think that we used to have more room when we stayed in our caravan. But the caravan experience helped as we worked out a method of storing things. Again I was allocated a 2 foot square to sit and remain whilst everywhere was an exclusion zone to me so that Karen could move around freely.
As usual our first port of call was the nearest Starbucks in a close by shopping mall for lunch. We both had a hot drink and a roll. Then we thought we would then walk to the Toji Temple which was nearby. In its grounds it had the highest Pagoda in Japan. The temple was dull and not very interesting although apparently important. The pagoda was more interesting. It is very old. Apparently during earthquakes, each of the 5 levels move independently to protect it. The shocks go up the building and it is called the name of the dancing snake because of this. We sat and watched it for several minutes but nothing happened whilst we were there. There were some pretty laid out gardens but by then there were constant messages over the tannoy saying that the place was closing in 15 minutes, 14 minutes etc, so we were gently ushered out.
We went back to the room for a while before heading back out to the shopping mall where we had spotted a Tony Roma’s restaurant earlier. The service was good, staff very polite and the food was fine. I had Chicken Linguine whilst Karen went for the Cobb Salad. The prices were more like USA prices and therefore much more reasonable. After this we found a supermarket and bought some things for breakfast the next day as it was not provided in the Hotel. It amused Karen to learn it was to be Mothers Day here in Japan tomorrow, so she sent the boys a message in case they didn’t know, as she decided she would like to celebrate it again. I think it fell on dull ears.
And with that we headed back to hopefully get some more sleep tonight. Yet again we felt perfectly safe walking around on the streets at night in the warm air. This place is definitely growing on me more and more so far.