Early in the morning I had to leave Tokyo for Kyoto, where I would be spending the next two days with xanthe! To reach Kyoto I would take the super high-speed bullet train from Tokyo station. I had never been on a bullet train before so I was looking forward to it. In Japan, the bullet train is referred to as “Shinkansen”.

In general, I tend to dislike asking for directions. Instead I would prefer navigating around on my own. The only thing is that the Shinkansen line at Tokyo station has about a gazillion different platforms and I ended up on the wrong platform! In the end I had to seek help at the information counter. Lesson learned: always ask for directions when you have heavy luggage and a large Hello Kitty cushion in tow!

Route from Tokyo to Kyoto on the Tokaido Shinkansen line

Three kinds of bullet train ply the Tokaido Shinkansen line from Tokyo to Shin-Osaka (kyoto lies along this route). My rail pass allowed me to take the Hikari train, which I did at 11:06am.

Train schedule

Every hour, two Hikari trains operate on this route. Each train travels as quickly as 300 kilometres per hour. At that speed, it would take me less than 3 hours to get to Kyoto!

Hikari, a Shinkansen bullet train

They had stalls selling bento sets on the train platforms. I got myself an unajuu (eel and rice) set.


One for the road!

At that point I was pretty sad to be leaving Tokyo. The time I spent there had been so wonderful and memorable! With my ipod earphones plugged in, I felt doubly melancholic.

Soundtrack: John Mayer – Clarity

The video above was taken just as the train was departing Tokyo station.

Interesting electronics building

The train made a few stops along the way. I noticed this interesting building at one of the stops (nagoya, I think). It had many well-known brands of electronics and technology products arranged neatly on its facade.

My colourful Indian bangles

My colourful Indian bangles!

Soundtrack: Alicia keys – Caged Bird

The train ride was a good one. It allowed me to see the more rural side of Japan with all its small houses and vast fields of greenery. What a stark contrast this was from the metropolitan Tokyo that I had been seeing for the past 7 days!

I reached Kyoto after 2 hours and 40 minutes! This shiny building is Kyoto station. It is the most important transportation hub in Kyoto where people can take the railway, subway or bus.

Kyoto Station

At the station, I found interest in a couple of food stores while waiting for xanthe to arrive.

Colourful bento sets

The bento sets were so detailed and elaborate!

Colourful candy

Then it was time to head to our hotel. We had booked our accommodation a month prior to our arrival, and clean forgot that it was within walking distance to Kyoto station! Yay! What convenience!

My bed in our hotel room in Kyoto, with my Hello Kitty cushion

The moment we opened the door to our hotel room, we were pleasantly surprised by how cosy it was! Our beds had beautiful comforters and bedding. My Hello Kitty cushion looked right at home!

Built-in boiling device

We also found an interesting boiling device in the room; it was built right into the table!

By the time we settled down it was already late afternoon. We had just one and a half days in Kyoto – time to hit the streets!

Maze of overhead wires

On our way to the hotel earlier I had spotted some wooden houses from afar. Kyoto is formerly the capital of Japan and well-known for having such traditional wooden houses.

Traditional wooden houses in Kyoto

So on one side you get a bustling city scene with tall buildings and busy roads; on the other side you get a peaceful area rich in tradition that looks a completely different world!

Traditional wooden house in Kyoto

We spent the next half hour walking through the lanes and alleys and admiring the houses!

Wooden nameplates outside a door in Kyoto

Wooden nameplates outside a door. It seems there were a few people or households living beyond that door.

Traditional wooden house in Kyoto

This house looked so quaint!

Traditional wooden houses in Kyoto

Traditional wooden house in Kyoto

My favourite is this particularly sweet-looking house! It might have been an eatery or something.

Shops in Kyoto

A row of shops lining the streets of Kyoto. They share the same traditional look as well.

Big bottles in glass cabinet display

Big-ass bottles. What are they, sake? Shochu?

Japanese wearing Yukata, a summer garment

Japanese girls wearing colourful yukata, which is a more casual form of kimono worn during summer. This was a very common sight; people would wear these out on the streets, to the malls, etc.

Buddhist temple in Kyoto

Kyoto is home to 2000 Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines!

Buddhist temple in Kyoto

This was the first temple that we visited as it was within walking distance from our hotel.

Public flowers

Pretty flowers by the road!

Back in Tokyo, our main form of transport was the subway and the occasional indecently-priced cab rides; we never rode the bus once. But here in Kyoto, the bus system was so intuitive and uncomplicated that it became the only form of transport that we used! (this is the Adobe PDF bus route map that we used over the two days, with illustrations and colour coded bus routes!)

Notice anything out of the norm in this photograph below?

Passengers boarding a public bus in Kyoto

All passengers board the bus at the back and alight at the front!

Diagram of a public bus in Kyoto

Regardless of the distance travelled, each bus ride costs ?220 for adults (that’s about 3 bucks). Passengers would pay their fares at the front of the bus (where the driver can get a clear view) just before they alight. That explains the unusual arrangement of the bus!


We took the bus to an area called “higashiyama”. Our main purpose there was to visit the famous Buddhist temple, kiyomizu-dera, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The temple was located really far off from the main road. We had to take a long walk on kiyomizuzaka, an upward-sloping lane lined with souvenir shops and eateries on both sides.

Green tea shaved ice dessert

A little shaved ice dessert to send us along our way. When you’re in Japan, you have to go for the green tea flavour! And the vanilla ice cream? That’s just good sense. (count the number of ice cream in this post! People with the correct answer get to treat me to real ice cream! Haha!)

Main gate at Kiyomizu-dera in Kyoto

Here we are! The renowned kiyomizu-dera!

Main gate at Kiyomizu-dera in Kyoto

Its intricate red and white main gate.

Kiyomizu-dera in Kyoto

Kiyomizu-dera in Kyoto

Purification fountain where visitors rinse their hands

Before entering the main praying area, visitors are supposed to rinse their hands at the purification fountain.

Purification fountain where visitors rinse their hands

Or here too.

Purification fountain where visitors rinse their hands

Pagoda peeking through the tree canopy

Vast forest beyond the temple. Can you spot the pagoda?

Stage used for performances at Kiyomizu-dera in Kyoto

An outdoor stage used for performances, like the one at the Shinto shrine I visited in Day 5. Temples and shrines, they all look the same after a while don’t they?

Outdoor stage at Kiyomizu-dera in Kyoto

Wishes written on wooden plates at Kiyomizu-dera in Kyoto

Kiyomizu-dera in Kyoto

The veranda at the top of this staircase is supported by hundreds of pillars and juts out over the hillside. From here you can enjoy a sweeping view of the entire city of Kyoto!

Kiyomizu-dera in Kyoto in the evening


Kiyomizu-dera at sunset

Following the temple visit, we took a stroll down the quaint kiyomizuzaka slope that we passed earlier.

Souvenir shop

This must be a hot-spot for tourists because there were numerous souvenir shops, each one selling the same stuff as the next.

Japanese toys

Hello Kitty in kimono plush toy

Did I not tell ya? The Japanese are crazy about Hello Kitty!


More ice cream! We opted for black sesame and purple bubblegum flavours this time round.

Sesame and bubblegum ice cream

Yummy! I never thought I would like black sesame ice cream (the colour alone has always turned me off)!

Japanese toys

Cute figurines of geishas.

Porcelain animal figurines

More cute figurines! These were handcrafted porcelain ones of animals!

Porcelain animal figurines


Remember the cute car we spotted in shibuya back in Tokyo? This is the one:

Cute car

Well, as luck would have it, we spotted another one of it right there in Kyoto, parked next to a traditional wooden house!

Me posing next to cute car


White Lover Café & Restaurant

Towards the end of the slope this white-coloured restaurant caught our eye. Many Japanese restaurants have plastic food replicas displayed on the outside that are really useful for people that don’t speak Japanese (remember my food ordering process in Day 1?).

White Lover Café & Restaurant

These particular food replicas looked entirely different from the usual plastic ones we saw. They appeared to be hand-painted and made out of clay! For some reason that was enough to attract us to have our dinner there!

White Lover Café & Restaurant

There was no other customer and it continued that way throughout the entire duration of our meal.

Dwarf figurines

Dwarf figurines by the window.

White Lover Café & Restaurant menu

Uniquely-designed menu with text that looked like they had all been painstakingly written.

Pork cutlet

Pork cutlet with a little mound of noodle.

Chicken steak in teriyaki sauce & breaded prawn

Chicken steak in teriyaki sauce and breaded prawn.

Then it was time to head back.

Coffee Jelly

But not before having a little coffee jelly (with ice cream) at caffe veloce, a café near our hotel. Yummy!