Monday, October 08, 2007

Day #4 - Narita to Kyoto

Shinkansen at Maibara station The run down from Narita to Kyoto, our first real port of call, was pretty fast and smooth, thanks to the combination of a Japan Rail pass and the shinkansen. A bus from the hotel back to the airport got us on to the express service to Tokyo, then a short walk got us on the shinkansen for Kyoto. Japan definitely seems to have got trains sorted out, something which both London and Sydney desperately need to do. The inter-city service in Australia looks like a train set in comparison.

View from the window of the shinkansen The view along the way was fascinating, albeit rather blurred. It seems like almost every almost flat piece is terraced and farmed, even small areas a couple of meters across will have rows of rice planted in them. Sadly, a view of Mount Fuji was not on the cards, staying hidden behind the low-lying clouds.

Ginkaku-ji templeOur hosts in Kyoto picked us up from the station; we went back to their home in the west of Kyoto, and dumped our bags, then headed in search of Ginkaku-ji, the closest of Kyoto's major temples.  Our timing was rather good, as we got there in the late afternoon, with the setting sun adding a golden hue to the scene. I'd rather been hoping that autumn had set in a little more, so that we could see the beautiful colours of autumn in the maples, but summer appears to have been quite warm, so only the first few leaves are starting to turn. Quite why New South Wales's schools can't have their spring holiday to coincide with Japan's autumn better, I don't know...

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