Kyoto

I was awake at 6:00 am so I showered and dressed. By then Majella was awake and did likewise. We left Sophie sleeping while we went downstairs to the lounge for coffee – there is green tea in our room but no coffee.

When we got back Sophie was stirring  a little. We ate our breakfast muffins while checking email and Facebook. Nick called Sophie using Facebook messenger video but she missed it so he called me. We all spoke with Nick and Harry for a bit.

I unpacked the portable WiFi unit and got us connected. Sophie got up, ate her breakfast, and prepared to go out. Around 8:30 am we stepped out to explore the neighbourhood. Majella located a restaurant where we might eat with Kanako tomorrow night and we bought breakfast for tomorrow at a 7-11 store. We were back at the hotel just before 9:00 am so Majella and Sophie waited in the lobby while I took our shopping up. Eriko arrived with her 9 year old daughter, Runa, soon after I came back down, a couple of minutes before 9:00 am. Runa had taken a day out of school because she was too excited about meeting us to wait until Saturday. Rio, her older brother, is evidently more scholarly and will not see us until after Saturday school.

We all greeted each other warmly and then headed out the door for Shin-Ōsaka Station where Eriko led us to the train for Kyoto. Our Icoca cards are good for travel in the region so having those made things easy for fares.

The train to Kyoto was crowded but quick, with just a couple of stops. In Kyoto we found our way to the bus station and took a bus to Kinkaku-ji Temple. 

We spent about an hour to walk through the temple complex. The most impressive feature is the gold covered building on the lake but there are many other interesting old buildings and garden nooks. There were large crowds of visitors including  a group who appeared to be on a themed tour that had them dressed up in traditional Japanese costume.

On the way out of the temple complex we stopped for green tea ice cream. It came as soft serve in a cone and looked like lime green but was actually coloured and flavoured by green tea. Eriko had a purple version with sesame flavour.

The street below the temple had several shops that had to be explored. There were a few things bought before we moved on to catch a bus to another part of the city.

When we got out of the bus we walked through streets and a park to the Heian  Shrine. Majella had been asking about cherry blossom and we were able to get some photos of late blossom along the way. The shrine occupies a large area with several buildings and there were crowds of visitors there as well.

From the shrine we walked into a major shopping area. Eriko led us to an restaurant where we ate lunch. Majella had eel in rice, I had shrimp with noodles in spicy hot soup, and Sophie had noodles with scrambled egg in hot soup. Eriko and Runa also had noodles. We all managed to eat our meals with chopsticks which was a first time for Sophie.

After lunch we walked more around the shopping area. Despite the time being well after her 3:00 pm limit, Majella wanted coffee so we stopped in at Hoshino Coffee and enjoyed their special drip coffee.

One reason we were in Kyoto was Majella’s desire to see a geisha. They operate in a small area of the city and only in the evening. Most of the day is taken up with dressing and applying makeup. After coffee Eriko led us toward the area where we walked down a narrow lane lined by nightclubs. Well down the lane we spotted a geisha who turned into a side lane. We followed and had a clear view as she boarded a taxi in the next street. How she managed to walk at all on her high platform shoes is a mystery.

Runa had spotted a playground in the lane and asked Eriko if she and Sophie could play there. We spent some time while they played on a seesaw. 

Because we were now some distance from the main Kyoto station it was not possible to easily go back the way we came. Eriko worked out an alternative that required a change of train at Kyobashi and another at Noe, where she would leave us to ride to Shin-Ōsaka while she and Runa went home.

We made it to Shin-Osaka but the credit on our Icoca cards was too little to allow us out of the gates. We had to add 100 yen to each card to get out. We found the JR office and succeeded in converting our vouchers to 7-day JR passes that will be active from tomorrow. That should simplify most travel for the next couple of days but we will be able to recharge our Icoca cards if necessary for our Saturday trip to Nara.

On the way back to the hotel we stopped at a store to find something simple for dinner. Lunch had been late and large so we did not need much. Majella had bought bread this morning for breakfast tomorrow and found some eggs and margarine so she and Sophie could have poached eggs on fried bread. I had a banana and shared a little of Majella’s egg. By that time it was 8:00 pm and we were ready to wind down for the day.

Our portable WiFi performed well through the day but ran its battery flat on the train from Kyoto to Kyobashi. I was able to plug it to the power pack supplied with it and it continued to work well. That will add to our recharging efforts each night and that was already a potential challenge. My usual solution with a power cube that will support 5 Australian plug devices fell over when I discovered that my new Japanese adapter would not accept an earth pin. The older one accepts an earth pin but has one of its own and the sockets here have just two holes. Fortunately I have a couple of Apple adapters that work with our older 12 W chargers and this room has two USB power slots. I’m hoping I might see something around that is a better solution than some juggling but if not we will manage.