Posted by: phoebz | July 23, 2008

Shinkansen to Kyoto, Gold Pavillion

Sakura Hotel Jimbocho, Tokyo, 28 June 2008

Morning breakfast in the hotel lobby couldn’t have been categorized as 5 stars hotel material, but boy, didn’t it taste great. After starvation of last night, the serve-yourself toast with butter and jam with list of choices of teabags and coffee is heaven.

Made myself toasts and sweet sakura tea. After the quick (very hungrily) breakfast, I still had time to go up to my room and do some last packing and lay down (still kind of sleepy) for half an hour before going down and checked out at the front desk.

From the quite annoying receptionist ( I forgive him thanks to the satisfying breakfast), I found out to go to Tokyo-eki, I need to go to Jimbocho-eki and take the Hanzomon Line to Otemachi-eki, then trasnfer to Marutomachi (the red circle) Line until Tokyo-eki. There I will meet my kind new friend Niswar who will be my guide to Kyoto and Nara.

The shinkansen leaves at 9:33. We take Hikari bullet train. Eventhough I already have my JR Pass handy in my hand, I still have to get the ticket to reserve the seats – but no fee required. Unfortunately we were there in the very last minute, so the only train car available is the smoking one. Yah, fine lah, second hand smoker for 3 hours.

Shinkansen board

Shinkansen board

We went to the special platform for shinkansen and waited only around 10 mins. Every 10 mins shinkansen arrived (and departed) in very punctual timing. The train inspector came and always check if the doors were all closed, and make sure that everything is in order. For an organized freak, Japan must be heaven!

Our train came, and we hopped to our car in the very end, and then off to Kyoto!

The stations on the way to Kyoto included Yokohama, Nagoya and some other cities that I’d want to visit (but have no time to). The train itself is very steady and not making any noise. We can stand as it runs in around 130 km/hour speed. That’s bleeping fast!

Shinkansen platform

Shinkansen platform

Take two! Action!

Take two! Action!

I was hoping to be able to spot Fuji-san from shinkansen (so they said) but not today, since the weather lately had been cloudy. So we just enjoy the train. A couple of times there was a girl selling drinks and onigiri or snacks in a trolley. I bought ringo juice, more expensive than in combini.

The shinkansen, and most of JR trains, I like, because they use English also for announcement if closing to each station. Like Yamanote, the most useful line that circling around Tokyo, the announcements are bilingual, using a quite hip American accent girl voice, announcing related station. I think it created quite a different atmosphere altogether.

Kyoto Tower

Kyoto Tower

We arrived in Kyoto at 13:30 or so. Quite hungry. Clouds hang low when we went out of Kyoto-eki. Right outside, there was Kyoto Tower (I thought it resembled the Seattle Needle tower, somehow looked like it came from Jetson’s cartoon – not too impressive, I’m afraid). We stopped by at the closest combini and bought another onigiri (believe it or not, I have survived so far by living on onigiri, bottled tea and sandwich only). I spotted even the convenient store in Kyoto carried small things souvenir-like, for example key chain or handphone strap. Wow.. Kyoto is so artsy (or maybe it’s just because the combini is near the station).

The Hostel

Turned out that the hostel that I booked was quite some blocks away from Kyoto-eki. Again people, remember advice no #1 : Don’t believe the map the hotel give you on their website!! We walked, luckily I have my friend that can help me (pak Niswar I owe you big time).  And then we finally found hostel, strangely noone was there. It was smaller than I thought, and quite scary.

Then I just realized I got a notification email from the hostel, telling me that in case of the hostel was full, they could give me a co-ed room. Uh-oh. Suddenly, cheap hostel was not such a good idea. My friend advise me to cancel and quickly reserve another hotel, preferably closer to Kyoto-eki. I browsed in a rush from my faithful z610i, but then most of the hotels are all fully booked (the day being Saturday, and summer too, so obviously visitors were already reserved the hotels).

Good thing I did a research before coming to Japan, remembering something about a hotel not so close to Kyoto-eki area, but near the Imperial Palace (Kyoto used to be the capital of Japan). So I Googled it, got the phone # and called… there was a room!

So we didn’t tell the guy, in fact we let the luggages there (because not check in time yet). We went to Kinkaku-ji (the Golden Pavillion), the so-called must-see destination no. 1 in Kyoto.

Kinkaku-ji (金閣寺 Golden Pavilion Temple) is the informal name of Rokuon-ji (鹿苑寺, Deer Garden Temple) in Kyoto, Japan. It was originally built in 1397 to serve as a retirement villa for Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu, as part of his estate then known as Kitayama.[1] It was his son who converted the building into a Zen temple of the Rinzai school. The temple was burned down twice during the Ōnin War.

The Golden Pavilion, or Kinkaku, is a three-story building on the grounds of the temple. The top two stories of the pavilion are covered with pure gold leaf. The pavilion functions as a shariden, housing relics of the Buddha. The building is often linked or contrasted with Ginkaku-ji, the Silver Pavilion Temple, which is also located in Kyoto.

From Wikipedia Kinkaku-ji

It was quite packed in Kinkaku-ji. We met some ‘suspected’ students from Indonesia, it’s quite funny to hear Bahasa after so long not hearing it being used in public place. He he. It was raining a little, but didn’t stop the visitors from taking snaps at the beautiful  golden temple.\

Raining in Kinkaku-ji

Raining in Kinkaku-ji



Golden Temple

Golden Temple

the villa

the villa

another view of the temple

another view of the temple

After walking around the pond (with big koi fish swimming cheerfully), we followed the crowd  and went on the path and passed a tea house (where you can order tea too), and some souvenir shop that sells … amulet (jimat!) in tiny fabric bags, attached with a small tinkle bell. The sign in romaji said what the amulet is for, for example : traffic safety, health, success in study and many more. Tried to look for the amulet for love (ha ha i know) for my single friends, but there’s none. So I bought each from the pile for the fun of it.

We then walked out to the exit. The garden itself is also quite amazing, but being raining a little and the thought of having to get to the hotel (plus kind of tired) made us went quick. Stopped by at the souvenir shop, and bought yukata set (3,500 yen for a flowery yukata with obi and geta – I think it was a bargain).

And then went by bus again to the hostel. I canceled the booking after got reservation at the hotel near Imperial Palace, but in order not to make the manager angry, I said I’d pay the price of one night. Nicely enough, the guy (sticker on his chest said ‘Hide’) said he would call his boss and ask if I could get a refund. Arigatou, Hide-san..

I did get half price refund. So I went to the hotel by taxi, dropping my friend to the station on the way. The hotel was indeed quite far from the station, but that’s okay. I got my peace…

Hotel across Imperial Palace

Hotel across Imperial Palace

Unintended I fell asleep. OMG! Two hours later I woke up feeling hungry, ate the sandwich I got from the afternoon, and then watched some TV. The programme in NHK, oddly enough was about several gaijins who commented on what’s cool in Japan, and they mentioned the pre-paid card (what is it called?) for train, and the shinkansen being two of the things cool. It’s so kewl… I just rode a shinkansen! (Kampungan mode on).

Then watched some weird teenage dorama about shogi. It’s like watching comic books or anime but it’s live action, complete with its exaggaration, including some flaming shogi chess.

After looking at my oleh2 in satisfaction (feeling that I have accomplished some of the tasks from this trip 🙂 ) I forced myself to sleep again. Tomorrow’s gonna be a long day, to Gion and then Nara.

Outside, rain was still pouring down on the garden of Imperial Palace of Kyoto



  1. wah, keretanya tiap 10 menit mampir feb? serasa naik kereta ekonomi aja donks, huehe.

  2. He eh Al 🙂 Tapi harganya sama skali tidak ekonomis he he he.. coba kaya di sini harganya… udah bejubel kali penumpangnya 😀

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