I awoke same time as always–my internal clock seems firmly fixed at 6 am–and got my things together. There technically wasn’t Wifi upstairs, but I managed to sneak a single bar and have a quick chat with D before I checked out. My train was to leave at 8:56 am, so I headed out around 8 am to catch a bus the host had advised me of. After pulling my luggage uphill to what I believed to be the stop, and watched the intended arrival time tick by, I headed back down to the other bus stop to wait there. At last, my bus arrived, and I, in a spectacularly awkward fashion, got on the bus. It was one of those tour bus-style buses, with virtually no room in the aisles (as luggage is typically stored below), so I wedged my luggage in front of a seat and sat, half-sprawled into the aisle. Thankfully, it was a relatively short bus-ride, and I was soon on the train and trundling back to Tokyo.
It was an uneventful train ride, which I suppose is a good thing. Being a Sunday morning, there were relatively few people, which meant it was a quiet ride. I managed to sneak a bit of work in–nothing like sentence completion and analogy problems to wake you up in the morning. In the end, I put on Music and Lyrics and relaxed for the last half of the journey. I rolled into Asakusa on schedule, not surprisingly, and hopped onto the metro to Ueno station to change to the JR line bound for Tokyo station. I was seriously famished at this point, so I grabbed a bit of Pocky and a drink before heading up to the platform to wait for the shinkansen. I’d only ridden the bullet train once before, and my abiding memory was a mild headache from looking out the window at the scenery blurring by. I do appreciate its generous leg room. I settled in for the two and a half hour train ride. We hummed along smoothly at an enormously fast rate, and I bounced around from revising a article manuscript, to starting a SSHRC scholarship application, to starting my poster for the Cancun presentation.
I had ironically left Tokyo with beautiful blue skies and arrived in Kyoto to a steady drizzle. Not having any desire to wander about in the rain in search of my ryokan, I grabbed a cab. I was trying to remember the scenery, but the rain was messing with my memory. I soon reached the Capsule Ryokan Kyoto, apparently the world’s first tatami capsule. It’s run by the same folks who own the Tour Club, where I stayed last time. I was shown to my capsule, a top “bunk”, but nicely outfitted with a little TV, outlets and LAN. It was a lovely space, a decent compromise between private room and open bunk-beds, and would do just fine for the next few days. I dropped off my things and headed out into the rainy streets to find dinner. The neighbourhood did start to feel familiar again as I made my way back towards the station. Having checked the weather forecast for the next couple days, Kyoto was looking to be thunderstormy tomorrow, which would not really be conducive for peaceful shrine-visiting. I did take a peek at Hiroshima’s weather, and it looked to be sunny in the afternoon. So I somewhat impulsively decided to head down to Hiroshima for the day, stopping in at the JR office to grab my tickets. Below the station, there is an entire underground network of tunnels filled with shops and restaurants. After perusing the displays, I selected “Japanese pizza”. It looked to be fairly busy, and in the end, I was seated with another foreigner. My table-mate was from Italy studying Japanese in Tokyo; we had a pleasant conversation, talking about language learning and longing for pasta, bread and cheese again. My meal was quite tasty, and it came with octopus balls, which I rather bravely tried. Though my bravery should be qualified, as I took out the larger chunks of octopus, just eating the balls filled with the smaller octopus bits. Fully stuffed, I headed back to the hotel.