Onto Kyoto

Leaving Koyasan was a hot, humid journey.

I took the bus from Shojoshin-in Temple to the cable car station and had to stand for the ride since the bus was small and there wasn’t anywhere to put my suitcase.  I was already sweating profusely before I boarded the bus and the lack of air conditioning only made that worse for me.  Also, I was stressed as I had to pay close attention to the time for this journey.  In order to arrive in Kyoto at a decent time that evening, I had to make the 3:19pm cable car from Koyasan so that I could catch the 3:30pm train back to Osaka. A tight train schedule getting to my next destination, Kyoto.

I bought my ticket for the return trip to Osaka the day before as part of a Koyasan travel package.  What I didn’t realize though, was that it wasn’t a direct train- I’d have to transfer to another train halfway to Osaka.  Plus, I wouldn’t have an assigned seat, which I wanted.  So at the top station of the cable car, I went to the ticket window to change it to the express train, but had no success.  Trying to change that ticket was my only time encountering any sort of problems with my lack of Japanese speaking ability as the older ticketing gentleman didn’t want to take the time to help me.  He just kept telling me the type of ticket I already had and waved me away.  So, I let it go, deciding that I would deal with it at the bottom station, and got on the cable car.  I dragged my stupidly heavy suitcase down the steep steps to the bottom of the car platform to board it at the front so as to save time at the bottom.  It was so hot and I was really starting to sweat.

The view back up to the top of the cable car platform.

The ride down was nice.  The car was full and I again stood for the ride, holding my suitcase so that it didn’t roll everywhere and hit people.  I was the only foreigner on the car and it struck me as interesting how the young kids on it reacted to me.  When I was in Japan 20 years ago, the city I lived in, Okazaki, which was still small enough that there weren’t a lot of foreigners in it, at least not westerners.  So when I would be out and small kids would see me then, I would often hear them quietly say to their parents, “gaijin” and point at me.  In some ways, that was the same reaction I got from the kids on this cable car, the same look although without the whispering.  It was surprising.

The cable car ride was short, five minutes in fact, and as soon as the doors opened, I heaved my suitcase out and made my way as fast as I could to the ticket window.  This time, the ticket agent took the time to deal with me and upgraded my ticket to what I wanted.  It cost me an extra 700 yen but it was totally worth it.

The train was going to be leaving any minute but I had to use the bathroom.  I didn’t know if the train had a toilet so I ran to the bathroom and just hoped I wouldn’t miss my train.  I made it back just in time. As I got to my seat, the train started to pull out of the station. I settled in and since there was nobody in the seat next to me, I slid my suitcase in front of the empty seat and relaxed.  I decided it was time to drink the can of Pepsi Twist I bought from the vending machine near the cemetery, and it was delicious.  I actually don’t drink soda anymore, but I made an few necessary exceptions to that rule on this trip.  And then it was really only the occasional Fanta Grape or when I found a special regional Pepsi or something fun like that.  I have yet to enjoy anything like the fun cucumber flavored Pepsi from a couple years ago, but the previous trip, I had something called Pepsi Balbao I think it was called.

Anyway, the train trip back was nice.  I had intended to sort photos and perhaps write but I decided to just look out the window and enjoy the beautiful mountain scenery going by.  It was fantastic.

The train arrived on time back into Namba Station, in Osaka.  I now had to get to the subway and make my way back to Shin-Osaka station in the northern part of the city.  I was in the lower middle of the city where the JR (Japan Rail) trains don’t go.  It was weird to back here again so fast but since it was so fresh in my mind, I had no problem getting back to where I needed to go and was qucikly on the subway platform.  The Midosuji Line, north to Shin-Osaka.

Once I arrived at Shin-Osaka, I hurried down to the JR ticket office for the Shinkansen and got my ticket.  I could now slow down since I had about 40 minutes until my train.  I took a minute and got some food then slowly made my way up to the Shinkansen platform.  Was it ever hot up there!  Again, as soon as i got up on the platform, the sweating began.  It was ridiculous how hot I was.  I got a nice cold bottle of tea and sat down and waited, trying to cool off- no luck.

The Shinkansen arrived, on time of course, and I was off to Kyoto.  I settled into my seat and just started to stare off out the window.  I love riding the Shinkansen and decided before I came on this trip to ride it as much as possible.  It’s the little things like this that I enjoy so much.  That evening on the train, I finally got to see a beautiful, colorful sunset as I sped towards Kyoto.  Magnificent.

One thing that I am fascinated by is trying to capture other trains that I pass while riding the Shinkansen.  Whether it’s local trains or trying to freeze a glimpse into another passing Shinkansen.

So, I arrived in Kyoto.  It felt so good to be back there, so familiar and welcoming.  It was so humid, in fact it felt hotter in Kyoto than Osaka.  Checking into the hotel took no time at all and within 20 minutes of arriving into to Kyoto, I was relaxing in my room.  I was staying at the fantastic Hotel Granvia which is located in Kyoto Station.  The first time I stayed here was in 2006.  It is my home away from home in Kyoto, I wouldn’t stay any place else (except in a Ryokan in Arashiyama?).

I was tired from the day but, after about 30 minutes of foot resting, I was out to explore a bit.  I actually went to the south side if the station and wandered into the giant Aeon Mall to do some looking in the bookstore and hit the grocery store for some breakfast food.

I decided to call it an early night and headed back to my room about 10pm.  Before that though, I went to the north side of the station to the Lawson convenience store for a snack, some chicken karaage (fried chicken nuggets if you will) and some orange juice.  Such a great combination, not at all a fancy meal but one that hit the spot.

After eating, I downloaded and backed up the days photographs, took a shower and I was off to bed.

Tomorrow, onto Kurama in the northern mountains above Kyoto.

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