I soon realised when doing my homework before we set off that it was Kyoto rather than Tokyo which was the place to visit, and set about booking tickets for the bullet train to get us there, congratulating myself on finding the means to do it with a 22% tourist discount. I had the sense to find a hotel near the station, luckily, as finding the way around with hardly any signs written in our alphabet was very difficult.
The bullet train was quite amazing. As we waited on our precise spot on the platform, a squadron of women dressed in pink overalls boarded the train with mops and buckets with precisely 2 minutes to clean it. They energed, bowed to the passengers, and we had precisely 2 minutes to get on. We left absolutely on time and sped past a snow clad Mount Fuji.
Our hotel offered free shuttle bus trips to several tourist sites, a help when time was short and getting around was a challenge. We took the bus, along with a Korean couple, to a village 10miles north of Kyoto and the driver (no English) indicated to our eventual surprise that he was not picking us up and we had to find our own way back. We didn’t let it worry us and set off to wander the streets and view the temple and the bamboo forest. After about 2 hours it began to rain and we started to think about returning to Kyoto, but how? Eventually we found a tiny tourist office and they explained how to find the local station with trains back to the city.
Kyoto station, as we had realised when we arrived on the bullet train, is enormous. Trains occupy the bottom 4 floors, then there are another 12 floors above. It is a marvellous piece of architecture, totally unlike any staion I have ever seen, with an escalator swooping through the upper floors through a chasm. It took some time to find our way out.
The sense of adventure on our holiday in Japan was like no other: quite exhilarating!