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FIVE THOUSAND MILES One Prew's adventures in Japan. April, 2014.

Day 12: Kyoto

Waking up bright and early after a good nights sleep – I couldn't keep my eyes open past 10pm – I quickly got up, dressed and packed my things away. Breakfast was served at 7am which was convenient for me as I was to catch a bus at 7.44. I think the lady running the minshuku took this into account though, she was very accommodating.

Breakfast was slightly different to my previous Japanese breakfasts which meant variety. Nothing too terrifying like the grasshoppers from the previous nights dinner either. Again only instant coffee but I knew I'd get a real one later in Kyoto. Really liking the beans, whatever they were.

I wished my fellow travellers well on the rest of their walking holiday and was on my way in time to catch the bus. Outside it was bright and didn't feel too chilly. I snapped some photos on my stroll down to the bus stop – it was only a 5 minute walk.

The bus arrived soon after I did so I got on, it only took 7 minutes or so, meaning I was soon at Nagiso station.

The train I was getting from Nagiso was a limited express train to Nagoya at 8.08. If I hadn't have got that train, and that bus before it, it would be been a much slower journey and I'd have had to change at Nakatsugawa. It was an unreserved train so I didn't need a ticket, just my JR pass. Unfortunately this meant no widow seat so no train photography. But I did enjoy reading my book for the hour journey instead.

At Nagoya station I went to book myself a seat on the shinkansen to Kyoto. The next one was all booked up so I got a seat on the 10.11 – I wasn't in that much of a hurry anyway, and it was all-in-all quite a short journey. Sadly again, just an aisle seat but my photography out of train windows isn't great anyway! When I arrived in Kyoto, I headed straight to the tourist information place inside the main station building and bought a two day subway/bus pass. I also picked up some maps and leaflets.

Not knowing where to begin, I located a nearby Starbucks and decided where to go first – whilst drinking a coffee, of course. I settled on the vague plan: Nijo Castle, check in to hotel, Nanzen-ji Temple/Philosopher's Walk. I worked out how to get to Nijo Castle on the subway and was soon on my way.

Kyoto subway was not too dissimilar to the Tokyo Subway. I spotted someone using an ELT book, so took a sneaky photo.

Unfortunately when I left the subway station at the other end, I spent some time walking towards to wrong castle gate and had to walk all the way around the whole castle area to get to the entrance.

Not much was visible outside, and I wanted to walk on the famous nightingale floors anyway, so I paid to go inside the castle grounds. It's called a castle but aside from the moats and outer walls, the insides are not very castle-like. There are two ‘palaces’ – Ninomaru (outer citadel) and Honmaru (castle keep). Ninomaru is the one with the nightingale floors – floors that squeak whenever anything touches them.

There was some amazing detailing on this castle gate, as well as other places around the grounds.

I was excited to walk on the nightingale floor as one of my favourite books is Across the Nightingale Floor – the floors in the book are obviously based on Nijo Castle. Photography wasn't allowed inside Ninomaru Palace but I took some outside, including of the grand-looking gate and surrounding gardens.

I still don't ‘get’ this sign. No scribbling? Scribbling? Really?

The other palace, Honmaru, wasn't open but there was a good viewpoint to see the building from further away. Honmaru Palace was located inside a second moat.

These trees were pretty interesting. Read the sign below these two photos for why they are particularly interesting.

Such pretty red leaves and it wasn't even autumn.

I had a further wander through the gardens then left to go find my hotel.

It was relatively easy to find, once I'd got to the correct subway station and use the right exit as well. There was a convenience store next to my hotel so I bought some food and then went to check in – eating the late lunch in my room, once I'd got to it. I unloaded some things from my backpack and worked out a route to get to Nanzen-ji.

By the time I got there it was gone 4pm and a lot of the temple buildings were closing for the day. I mostly just wanted to look at the outsides though anyway.

The largest stone lantern I saw in all of Japan (well, all of Japan that I saw).

The man you can see walking towards me in this photograph said hello to me and offered to take my photo. Friendly people, yay.

Very Western looking bridge-type construction.

When I was done looking around Nanzen-ji itself, I started to walk the Philosopher's path. At least, I think that's what it was! It was uphill and through trees, with a little stream running alongside. If it was the Philosopher's path then that means the stream was in fact a canal – at least that's what the Japanese would call a canal.

I began walking through the trees, off-road at one point, then decided to turn back in favour of not getting lost.

I loved these little metal birds used simply to make this mundane metal road block more interesting.

I headed back to Shijo (the station closest to my hotel) at about 6pm and found a restaurant for dinner on the way back to the hotel. It was, accidentally, my first experience of ordering and paying for my food using a machine by the entrance and then sitting and being served. I thought it was a normal restaurant. Well, the food turned out to be perfectly normal, very cheap actually but tasty. At least now I know for next time what to do as well!

At different points in the day I also sampled two new green tea flavoured snacks. Both yummy.

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