Sunday, October 14, 2012

Just get on with it already!

Our first morning in Kyoto did not start out the way we had planned. The city is laid out in a grid pattern which makes understanding where you are and where you need to go pretty easy. North is uphill. During my research I was shocked to discover Kyoto does not have a thriving subway line. Instead the city's public transportation is an intricate web of buses. (Okay, to be honest, Kyoto does have subway lines. Two to be exact. One goes north/south and the other goes east/west. Neither of which had stops near any of our destinations.)

The city does offer an all-day bus pass for 500 yen (about $6) that will take you anywhere in the city central. Destinations outside the city required a little extra money.

Finding the right color, letter, and number! We can do this!
Our tourist office on base did not have a map of the bus stops. Neither did our not so fabulous hotel.  I did have a map of the roads in the city and we had walked from the train station the night before so we set off in a semi-familiar direction...

...and came across a business man peeing on the side of the building. Not in an alley. Just dropped his fly and peed between a barber shop and an apartment building. It was an not an auspicious start to our Kyoto vacation.

Bus Depot
Finally we made it to the bus area of Kyoto station, purchased passes, and mapped the shortest way to our destinations. Finally we were ready to start sightseeing! Or at least doing something more than riding buses around the city. Whoa, whoa, whoa. Wait a second. There's a Starbucks.

Check out my smaller-than-small size! Take that Trenta!

Now we live in the Japanese version of the country. Really. So when we come across stores only in big ol' cities we just have to visit. So we did. There were so many nationalities represented (and come to think of it.. not many Japanese) that it became a game to try to figure out where each group was from. Oh, Starbucks. A glowing beacon in all the kangi, hirigana, and katakana.

"Attention all tourists. Meet and convene here before embarking on our confusing city. We are your last respite!"

Ahh. A little piece of home in this strange (yet exciting) country. Now to the temples and shrines - oh my!


  1. Hi Miss Natalie!

    I live in America and I am visiting Japan this coming January for four months. I lived in Iwakuni 13 years ago with my parents. Since I see you lived there /live there, would you say the people are friendly or rude toward americans?

    1. Hi Joseph,
      I hope it is helpful for planning your trip. In our experience the people are very friendly to us, often going out of their way to talk to us and learn of our experiences. I sent you more information in reply to your email.
      Hope you can make it back here soon!