Left the ryokan at 7.45 and caught the bus to Odawara and camped out in a coffee bar enjoying a coffee and a frankfurter (see earlier comments about the rise of Germanic food in Japan). Then spent a million pounds checking my email at the Hakone Bakery and boarded the Shinkenzen for Kyoto. Arrived at the rather fab train station and tried to check in. Lots of girls dressed as pageboys but I still had three hours to kill so I headed out for some exploring. Grabbed some soba and tempura on the way which was cheap and delicious and headed to Shojien temple near the train station. Interesting and fairly impressive. Then walked the back streets to Higashi Hongwangi temple where I met a wonderful American novice who discussed the differences between Indian and Japanese Buddhism with me for forty minutes. It was time to explore on my own. so I wandered around this gorgeous temple in peace free from my Buddhist stalker. Then crawled back to the Granvia Hotel in sweltering heat. Stopped at an am/pm to buy more Poccari Sweat. I’m now an addict and will take some home but I fear this is yet another product that won’t make the transition.
Showered, changed and headed out for the Geisha Walk in Gion. The heat was unbearable and I was carrying a stupidly heavy backpack but the Gion area was great and we saw a number of Geishas or Geikos or Frodos of whatever they are called in this part of Kyoto. I’m not a fan of the Geisha tradition. At best, it is a rather sad circus for tourists but it’s not a noble art, it’s just prostitution without sex. So it’s not mysterious, it’s just business. However the back streets are brilliant, filled with old wooden houses and small alleyways.
Then back to the hotel and off the11th floor of Kyoto station to visit Moritaya, famous for its Shabu Shabu which is beef dipped in light stock with vegetables. I had Wagu beef (second grade) but at £45 it just wasn’t worth it. 2oz of meat dipped in hot water with a few vegetables. Sorry to sound negative but it was just too bland. Then watched the news and crashed out.