A Travellerspoint blog

On Track in Kyoto

sunny 29 °C

We came to Kyoto in search of the numerous aging temples and shrines that dot the landscape of this, the ancient capital of Japan. But as soon as we stepped off the high speed Shinkansen train from Nagoya we found ourselves in a futuristic world
Stations come and go as we wend our way across continents but while many are impressive historic edifices, (even cathedrals to railway worshippers), none compare in terms of size, architecture and services to the central railway station in Kyoto.

It is a city unto itself with a four star hotel, a major department store, the central post office, dozens of restaurants and cafes and hundreds of shops offering everything from kimonos to jellyfish salads.
The station roof is a masterpiece of structural engineering only surpassed in height by the nearby Kyoto Tower…
It has surely one of the longest and widest flights of stairs in the world ascending eleven floors to a rooftop garden with spectacular views across the city to the surrounding mountains…
Fortunately there are numerous escalators and elevators…
…and a full-sized stage offering excellent free performances from the likes of this concert band playing the music of Glenn Miller…
But, to return to the shopping for just a moment. The Kyoto Station is a shopaholic’s dream factory. All of the world’s priciest brands have set up shop here – Gucci, Fendi, Mary Quant to name a few, and the fourteen floors (eleven above ground and three below) of the Isetan department store are a shrine to the conscientious consumers who flock here to shop. But we have not come to Kyoto to marvel at the modern and to shop: we are here to seek the peace and harmony of the many ancient Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples like this, the Ginkaku-Ji…
But before we delve too far into the past we will have to spend sometime marvelling at all the staff as they bow deeply and wish us ‘Good morning’ and at all the goodies on offer at Isetan – particularly on the two floors dedicated entirely to the most exquisitely presented food. No photography is permitted in the store so you will have to use your imagination, suffice to say we have not experienced such service, such quality and variety and such attention to detail anywhere else in the world.

But with all this wonderful Japanese food on offer what on earth were we thinking when we took one of our first meals in Kyoto in a Nepalese tandoori restaurant where the entertainment was a Japanese/Arabian belly dancer who got half of the diners to join in…
And who said that the Japanese are timid?
P.S. While we were very close to Mt. Ontake last week we had left the area before it erupted.

Posted by Hawkson 00:04 Archived in Japan

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Wow! That's some train station....makes the ones I grew up in shrink to a molecule. What a rich culture you are experiencing... So glad you had left the Mt. Ontake region...love to you both

by Sharron

Phew! Good to know you were not caught up in Mt. Ontake disaster.

by The Vickerage

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