Japan 2013: Day 6 Next Up – Kyoto! Part 1

DAY 6: TUESDAY 19 NOVEMBER 2013

The plan for the day was to enjoy a leisurely breakfast at the hotel restaurant (Santa Monica’s Wind) before checking out and to board the 820am shuttle bus back to Sannomiya. Then to Shin-Kobe to catch the Shinkansen to Kyoto.

Kobe Meriken Park Oriental is probably the kind of hotel you would love to spend a lot of time in to chill and relax, given how comfortable the rooms are + also to soak in the gorgeous views of Kobe’s harbour landscape. However after my experience with the Kobe Subway the day before (train was stationery for 10 min before finally moving) …… deliberated and decided after much thought that it would be much better for me to take the 820am bus rather than the 850am one as I had reserved the 925am Shinkansen Hikari 462 ride. It was also a good idea to get in to Kyoto early at 10-plus so that I can get the necessary maps and directions, and find my bearings once again upon reaching a new city ……

First up, went down for breakfast at 7 (one of my earliest days so far in the trip). Gorgeous morning views from the restaurant as blogged under Weekly Photo Challenge: Beginning.

Enjoyed a sumptous breakfast (buffet style consisting of western and some local japanese fare, variety was so good that I even skipped taking the Japanese porridge due to time constraints + also not to over-eat). 5-star does indeed make a difference  ……

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The restaurant looks like this from the entrance ……

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Took a long time (1 hour) enjoying my breakfast, while basking in the gorgeous city views. It was a little over 8 when I finally went up to my room for the last time to pick up my luggage before checking out. Before that, a few more shots from the room balcony 😛

Kobe Meriken

Went back down, checked out, and realised that I left my scarf in the hotel room. Slight panic moment there as it was 0818 Hrs, just 2 min to the bus arriving at 0820 Hrs. Made a quick run back up to level 12 to grab my scarf, and ran back down again. Luckily the bus still wasn’t here (probably slightly late due to morning traffic) so indeed a close shave and thanking my lucky stars! *relieved*

Everything was smooth after that, as there were no delays at Sannomiya, and on the subway to Shin-Kobe. Only thing was that I went to Entree Marche at Sannomiya to get a bottle of mineral water, but then forgot all about getting sounvenirs/omiyage as I was pre-occupied in getting to the subway station fast. When I reached Shin-Kobe, saw the below travel advisory on the 2 local lines (JR Kyoto Line & JR Kobe Line) ……

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Was really thankful that I managed to catch the shuttle bus to Sannomiya, and reached Shin-Kobe in time to change the Shinkansen. Did contemplate taking the 2 local lines (From Sannomiya To Osaka On JR Kobe Line, then Osaka to Kyoto on JR Kyoto Line) instead of Shinkansen as no reservations are required, thus makes for more flexibility. However the shinkansen from Shin-Kobe to Kyoto will take only 25 min – much faster. And with this breakdown/delay, am glad that I went for the shinkansen option indeed!

Waiting area at Shin-Kobe. Instead of just hot drinks like your usual cofee and tea, there’s an option for a beer as well!

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This comes to the end of my ‘adventure’ in Kobe. Would have loved to stay longer rather than leaving so early in the morning …… Kyoto awaits!

P/S: On a random note, I reached Kobe on 18 Nov Monday. Prior to that, there was a Kobe Marathon on 17 Nov Sunday. My 2nd/3rd draft itinerary actually slated me to be in Kobe on 17 Nov before I switched it to 18th as Nara was nearer to Osaka. Also thought of putting Kobe as my last city in Kansai (20th & 21st Nov) but decided that the extra 1/2 day in Kyoto would make more sense, as I would later find out.

Managed to stay awake this time on the short 25 min shinkansen and got to snap some pictures on the journey. Tried a few times before getting this shot of a plane flying in the sky from the train window (using zoom function on camera). It is always a challenge getting good shots while on a moving train ……

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Reached JR Kyoto Station a little over 10am.

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Greeted by throngs of tourists – its peak season in Kyoto (school excursions and autumn colours – which is my main motivation for visiting Kyoto as well) ……

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6 days into my trip, by now the very 1st thing I do upon reaching the train station (when I land in a new city/place) is to head to the tourist infomrmation centre for maps and directions. As with the peak season, greeted with throngs of tourists inside the office itself ……

Kyoto Station 1

The quene for English speaking staff moved fast though (realised the people in my earlier pictures were mainly China tourists quening for the chinese speaking staff to attend to them) …… And got very helpful pointers to get the Kyoto City Bus Pass (500 JPY for a 1 day pass) and also the Subway Pass (600 JPY for a 1 day pass). The lady advised me that the Tourist Pass (for city bus, subway, kyoto bus) may seem cheaper, but is of not much use unless I plan to venture out to more rural areas beyond Kyoto City (e.g. Ohara) …… and City Bus would be the more handy one to have as most attractions in Kyoto are linked via the bus network rather than the subway network. Also saw a autumn leaves / koyo chart at the corner. Its all in mandarin, and as much as I am able to read mandarin, my itinerary drafts are all in English, well nevermind ……

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Went on to the JR West office round the corner after that to do my bookings for the Sagano Scenic Railway that I plan to take the next day in Araishimaya. It is a very popular attraction, especially during the autumn foliage season – thus many travel sites had advised to reserve the seats early in advance. Could only get the 1507 Hrs train rather than the preferred 1607 Hrs train …… so made do with that. It was around 1040 Hrs when I got all these stuff done, and ready to proceed to my hotel to drop off my luggage next ……

A few shots inside and outside of Kyoto Station as I search for the subway entrance to bring me to Karasuma next. As compared to Osaka Station, Kyoto Station is not as big, and simpler to navigate ……

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Its a bright and sunny day in Kyoto! Kyoto Tower right outside the station ……

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After much walking and navigation (the subway line is located right at the other corner of Kyoto Station), finally hopped onto the Karasuma Line to get to Shijio Station (2 stops). While the journey to Shijio was fast, but it took me a long time to locate the correct exit (it was South exit all along but I forgot to jot down the directions in my notebook the night before, as well as saving the map in my iPad) and ended up at the North exit …… Finally managed to locate First Cabin Kyoto Karasuma after walking into Daiwa Roynet Hotel reception to ask for directions 😛

Dropped my luggage there and went back out again. By the time I managed to locate the place and all, it took me a good 1/2 hour to 45 mins and it was already around 1145 when I left the hotel, but not before deciding to leave my iPad in the lockers at the reception as I was starting to feel the strain of carrying it with me all over the place ……

Had my eye on the Kyoto Ramen Koji while earlier at Kyoto Station, so decided to head back to Kyoto Station for ramen lunch before continuing rest of the day’s planned itinerary. Been 5 days since my last ramen meal in Tokyo and about time for one as well 😛

Reached Kyoto Station a little after 12, and after walking through the entire ramen street (located on level 11 of The Cube – Isetan side of the station that is just right next to the tourist information centre), decided on this shop which sells Kyoto-styled ramen that originated from Ginkakuji – which so happens to be my next destination after lunch!

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Chose the 800 JPY special for the month as advertised at the shop front. Tasted more like chinese style dan dan noodle, with the thin noodle used and the tau pok being part of the ingredients as well ……

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After my lunch, walked round the level looking for a place for a drink/dessert and at the same time picked out another 2 outlets that I may like to try (if I were to come back again) – one that is Fukushima based (i.e. the ramen that has a lot of meat) and Ikkousha (where there is an offshoot outlet at Ramen Champion back here) ……

Kyoto Station 3

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