Japan day 14
Japan day 14
Kobe-Kyoto 87 km
Having ‘camped’ in luxury last night, rather than just slip away quietly this morning, I went to thank the lady in charge. She appeared with a beaming smile, and to her every bow, I bowed in return, and she wished me a safe trip. She even stood at the gate to wave me off…..
Before I left Kobe, I particularly wanted to check out the Kitano area, built on a prominent hillside overlooking the city.
To understand why there are so many 19th century European houses, you have to appreciate that, when Japan emerged from its 200 years of self-imposed isolation in 1858, Kobe became the entry point for foreign traders, resulting in the building of houses of distinctly European style.
Their charm bewitches Japanese tourists, and they flock here in their thousands to gaze in wonder.
Heading off towards Kyoto, the skies were threatening. After two weeks of constant sunshine, I was beginning to believe it was going to last forever, but a rude awakening lay just a few kms up the road. It didn’t just rain, it poured for 5 hours, and the appalling conditions were compounded by the sheer volume of traffic. This part of Japan is completely urbanized, so in going from one city to another, you travel through suburban corridors that reveal no open spaces, and traffic never thins out. The last time I had a day with such appalling conditions, was crossing Bulgaria last year, where the only positive thing I could say about it was, it got me one day closer to my destination. I am thankful now that, amongst all the alternative routes I researched, I decided not to go anywhere near Mt Fuji and Tokyo.
I limped into Kyoto tired, wet and bedraggled, only to find out that (like Hiroshima last weekend) all beds were officially sold out. Why, I asked at Tourist Information? Ah, it’s not only the cherry blossom season, they said, but this is the season for illuminating many of the 1500 temples and 200 shrines (yes, there really are that many). A third of Japan comes to Kyoto every year, and most of those will be in the next few weeks. It’s prime viewing time.
A young man then proffered a few suggestions: one was a sauna that offered dormitory-style sleeping, the other was an internet/manga cafe, where you could book a cubicle by the hour, and stay overnight. Well, I have to admit, I was intrigued. The nearest being the cafe, I checked it out first.
They could offer me my own private cubicle, complete with computer, TV and lie-down space, for a block of 12 hours for about £20, and for every 15 minutes over that time, £1 will be charged.
Toilet and washbasin are available, as are a variety of free drinks.
But the curious addition to all of this are the ‘manga’……the infamous and outrageous comics that occupy the reading attention of all ages. I flicked through a few and couldn’t believe how explicit they were, and the fact that all the cartoon characters were obviously prematurely over-developed young teenagers. No doubt screeds of research have been done on Japan’s addiction to such literature.
My 12 hour block of time will finish just after 6am tomorrow, so by the time anyone else is stirring in the city, I will have hit about 1200 of the 1500 temples……when I will pause briefly to have some breakfast….. 🙂
I had hoped to spend a 2nd night in Kyoto, but that will be under review as the day progresses.