#55 Day 33: Tokyo – Kyoto, Japan

Friday 28 April 2017

Luckily I didn’t have an early start, I had to be out of my room by 10am and my train wasn’t until just after 12pm. After breakfast in my room I said a quick goodbye to the nice lady at reception and somehow I made it to Tokyo main station by 10.30am! I wasn’t sure where to go so went to the ticket office to ask and a friendly customer service lady not only directed me but re-booked my ticket for the 11.03am train. Result. I was excited to go on the bullet train, which was quite comfy and had lots of leg room, not like the commuter trains at home. I hadn’t missed the daily commute, but at that moment in time I did miss my train buddy I sometimes meet in the evenings. He would have moved jobs (to a different city) by the time I get home so I probably won’t see him again and the thought of this made me momentarily sad.

I buried my head in my book, and occasionally looked out the window and the journey went quickly, before I knew it, it was 1.45pm and the train was pulling into Kyoto. It was a short distance to the local JR platform and I quickly travelled the two stops to Nijo where I was staying. I loved Kyoto the first time I visited and felt very much at home as I walked out of the station to find my apartment. In this area all the buildings are really cute and the streets once you turn off of the main road are quite small and set out in a grid system, which is great if you know where you are but not great if you don’t because they all look the same! I had spent some time before I left on google maps finding the apartment location and had printed out a map both in English and Japanese. It was simple enough to find the right vicinity, however the buildings didn’t seem to have obvious door numbers and in the end I asked this kind man who owned a tiny Barbers shop to point out the building, which was literally opposite his shop! I was pleased with myself for getting this far and was even more pleased when I found the key where it was supposed to be and let myself in. The apartment was tiny but I fell in love with it straight away. I had booked it through Airbnb and had agonised over the decision about where to live for six nights, but luckily it didn’t disappoint.

The whole thing was a rectangular shape, with the front door at one of the short ends. Once through the door, on the left was a little kitchen unit with a hob (one gas ring) and a sink with a couple of cupboards underneath and a shelf above. Next to that was a small fridge with a microwave on top. On the right were two doors, one contained a wet room with a bath, shower head and sink and the other a toilet. Directly in front was a door which divided the apartment into two. Through the door was the lounge/bedroom, with a sofa on the left hand side and a funky coffee table, a built-in cupboard on the right and the bed took up the far end across the back wall. At the end of the bed (and next to the end of the sofa) was a sliding door leading out to a balcony with a corrugated plastic roof where there was a washing machine. It was so cosy and I couldn’t believe my luck at how nice it was, and at only 5mins from the station it was the perfect place for me to spend the week. I knew I would be very happy here.

The apartment had ‘pocket wifi’, which was a God-send. You connect and then put the receiver literally in your pocket (it was smaller than a phone) and wherever you go you have instant wifi. Just like home! I went out to find a supermarket and just by the station was an entertainment complex with restaurants on the ground floor, a massive arcade on the next and guess what; a cinema on the top floor! I couldn’t believe my luck, Fast & Furious 8 was on and there was a showing in English at 5.20pm. I’m not quite sure why there was a showing in English, maybe it was just for me, because there were absolutely no westerners around and the people working in the complex didn’t really speak English. You had to buy the ticket via a machine, which didn’t have an English language option. Not wanting to buy the wrong ticket I asked one of the staff to help me and by way of pointing and smiling etc. we managed it. I can’t describe how excited I was and messaged my friend (using my pocket wifi, haha) to tell him. Grabbing a toasted sandwich and a rooibos tea from one of the café’s downstairs I was back in time to buy my popcorn and take my seat.

Needless to say, I really enjoyed the film and then skipped back to the apartment. On the way home I’d picked up a boil in the bag curry sauce and some microwave rice, not very gourmet but it did the job and I happily ate my dinner listening to some music on Spotify and started to plan my stay in Kyoto.

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