Shinkansen: from Tokyo to Kyoto
We decided to purchase 7-day JR pass (from our country) although we could have taken a bus which would cost much less. We just wanted to experience the shinkansen ride which did not disappoint us at all. The ride was smooth and took less than three hours. Too bad we both felt asleep while the Shinkansen ran pass Mount Fuji which we would love to see as Hakone was not one of our destinations this time.
Misc: 1. The bento box (ekiben) tasted pretty good (<?800) 2. A little boy who sat beside my sister was adorable. He kept us company for a while with his toy.
After we dumped our suitcases, it was already almost 3pm, so we decided to go to Nijo Castle first by JR train (since it was free anyway :). But in turn, we had to walk about 15 min to the castle. It was a nice walk to see the street of Kyoto though. Narrow streets. Old buildings. A man riding a bike while holding an umbrella in one hand and a cell phone in another! The castle was fantastic and the paintings were beautiful. Unfortunately the information was pretty much in Japanese and my Japanese is not good enough to understand everything written. Wish we had a guidebook with us. The garden outside was pretty also, so it was nice just to walk around. The whole castle was quite big, so we ended up staying there until the closing time. Since by the time we left, it was raining, taking a bus was definitly a better choice than walking back to JR station. I was impressed by the bus in Kyoto. It had English signs and even a coin exchange so you don't have to worry about not having exact change - very tourist friendly! We had dinner at an omurice restaurant in the Cube - an underground shopping mall in Kyoto Station. First time having omurice and I felt like it was melting in my mouth...wonderful.