We planned to meet our friend in Tokyo and spend the rest of our trip in Tokyo area including Mount Fuji visit (yes, super exciting!). Thus, on the 5th day, we spent morning time touring around Kyoto one last time before we got onto Shinkansen to check-in our hotel at Shinjuku Tokyo. Ebisu was a very nice and clean tatami (traditional Japanese house) hotel we stayed in Kyoto. You can check out easily there by dropping the key at a place at the front desk and write down the time you leave. The location was only 8 minutes walk from Kyoto JR station. We also really enjoyed the room (shown in the quick video clip below). The price was wonderful for such a room with a full-size bathroom. The hotel sent out email with very detailed direction instructions and tips for surrounding area before you trip, which was super helpful.
To be efficient, we found a nice cafe Ogawa Coffee at Kyoto Station underground to enjoy some breakfast salad, salmon toast, coffee and a nice cake roll. Japanese people are great in embracing western food and create their own Yoshoku! (check out the article we wrote about that). The breakfast was fresh, tasty and perfect portion for us.
After breakfast, we went to our last stop at Kyoto this time, Kenninji temple. The temple is not just famous for fall foliage but also a lot of historical arts and treasures stored there. You will see thousands years old architecture holding art works from hundred years ago to recent decade. It was a beautiful experience to get a glimpse of eastern culture and Japanese arts. We saw a couple shoot wedding photos in the outside garden realm of the temple. The temple area is huge. You will have to get to the main building where the entrance is a ticket office and also shoes storage area (the white building in the second photo below and it opens after 10am when we were there) Yes, you cannot wear your own shoes inside the main area but there are nice outdoor slippers provided when you get to the zen garden for example. Very considerate and nice service there (remember, temple management is a business in Japan)
Amazing art works collected and stored at the temple. The temple is also a place that hosts different art exhibition or events so you will see a quite diversified presentations inside. As one of the oldest Zen Buddhist temples in the world (completed in 1202), its zen garden is considered to be one of the so-called Kyoto Gozan or "five most important Zen temples of Kyoto".
Click the picture below. It's a quick video clip
Not far from the temple by bus, we went to a great noodle place, Wajouryoumen Sugari 和醸良麺 すがり. As usual, it was small but amazing. There were fewer than 15 seats probably and there was only one way in and out so you have to follow the people before you. We were so happy that we were not the first. Otherwise, we might just lead all those behind us to be lost together. It actually turned out to be a fun activity as they have a vending machine outside the dining area, where you buy the tickets of things you want. It has English option so very easy to follow. We chose their famous dipping noodle, which is dry noodle with soup sauce on the side. We definitely added egg and chose beef as toppings. It was delicious. Once you get the tickets, just on inside and be seated. You will have to sit next the the earlier guests without any seat in between. There are hangers on the wall behind you so you can put you jackets aside and be ready to enjoy the food. Just leave the tickets to the staff who works in between the seating and the kitchen. While you are waiting, take a look at the hidden drawer under the table where you will find all utensils and extra spices that you might add to your dish later.
After a warm delicious meal, we finally were ready to leave the city of the past for the era of future! It was always fascinating to see how fast Shinkansen was in front of our own eyes. Safety, speed, tidiness, always fun to ride on Shinkansen but be sure to check the trains one more time before you step on. We were quite experienced but due to tight time, we just hopped on the slowest train by accident which could easily turn our trip from 2 hours to 4 hours. This website http://www.hyperdia.com/ is very informational if you'd like to check out the right train names, price and time to avoid mistakes. Luckily, we transferred successfully in the next big stop for the fast train so that we could get to Shinjuku before sunset.
After checked in the Prince Hotel at Shinjuku, we went outside to walk around. The energy at the crossroads in this district is so unique. With great sound systems and huge monitors on the building to show the latest music videos of J-pop, we were wondering how many hearts were touched and echoed through the music. It is definitely one of the business crossroads in Tokyo as you may have seen on TV or other media. People come and go due to different reasons, drivers, desires. Everything bumps into everything but doesn't really get twisted together. Seeing Godzilla on top of Hotel Gracery Shinjuku from our room, it makes you feel like in another world, which is part of Tokyo's charisma that we will talk more about in the following day.