Doctor's Log 11-16-2016 Wednesday Kyoto, Japan 8:40pm
Oh man, another travel day, this time not as hard on us as the first day, but challenging, and a couple of weird turns of events.
But first a confession.
Yesterday I mentioned that I wanted to go to two places before leaving Tokyo, the first was Cap Bar, the second was Artnia a Square Enix Cafe in the Shinjuku area. Now on the first day, when I thought about going I didn't search it out on Google Maps. As the week progressed I started relying on a combination of Google Maps, Japan Travel (that shows the rail lines), and Google Translator.
Once I felt confident about my ability to switch between the apps I looked into Artnia again. I was staying LITTERALLY around the block from it. In fact, I took a picture by a Square Enix sign thinking it was just a random advertisement. In fact I could see their building from the apartment I was staying in this whole time!
I knew today, before leaving Tokyo I would atone for my ignorance by going directly to their cafe, and I am so glad I did. As soon as I walked in music from the Final Fantasy VIII sound track was playing. I was ecstatic.
They were celebrating the 30th Anniversary of Dragon Quest so there were pictures of Slimes, Monsters in a Box, and other baddies from their RPGs all around the store. The food was great, and themed based on their games. I had pancakes with a Chocobo burned into it. Compared to Cap Bar, the menu wasn't as robust, but the swag, oh man! The swag was strong with this one.
There were tons of plushies, from Cacataurs to the Heartless, and mind you I wanted to go on a shopping spree as soon as I entered but I kept my cool.
There is one other thing I have to mention, their good stuff, their statues, and jewelry was kept in a separate room, a special room, the Crystal room. They had a separate room , where water fell from the ceiling and surrounding a mound a Crystal and at the bottom was pink, green, and yellow Materia. The whole scene coupled with the music blew me away.
If Cap Bar was about a kinitic excitement, Artnia felt more like peaceful reprieve before going back out on our grand adventure.
Something you really haven't heard me talk is the poor or homeless in Tokyo. I meant to go into it on another post but there was a special friend we made today that is pertinent to this part of the story. We had to get reimbursed for our deposit and our remaining balance for our subway passes, once in Kyoto we were going to rely on our JR Line pass only.
As we left the office for the metro I made a rookie mistake. I kept the map they handed us in my hand instead of putting it away, we had no use for it, we knew where we were and were we were going. In most cities, I do my best not to look like a tourist, but in this situation with a map and luggage I couldn't help it, and so enter the drifter.
This guy targeted us quick, told us how to get we were going and offered to carry our bags for us. The whole time I am trying to tell this guy we don't need his help, he continued to move alongside us. Once we got to where he thought we were going, and I told him we didn't need him that's when he asked us for money. He asked for 300 yen saying he was hungry, we gave him 100 for being a hassle. Had he asked for the 300 upfront rather than try to hustle me I would have given him the money. Either way he left peacefully.
This was the first time we were approached for money during our whole visit, even after walking by what can only be described as a homeless village near the government buildings the other day.
After that we worked our way to the bullet train. I had never seen one of them up close. Once on board, we got to see parts of Japan fly right by us in a blink. Other than the constant pain my ears have been in since it was rather uneventful.
When we got to Kyoto station I immediately missed Tokyo. The look and feel of Kyoto station felt similar in that it was a train station, but dark and drab by comparison. Getting off the train there was a large crowd of people in dark business suits and school uniforms. At this point I was starting to think the whole city will be in darker tones, but Kyoto Station at rush hour was pleasant compared to Tokyo’s Shinjuku Station. It was all much more manageable even with our luggage in tow.
So after almost 3 hours of travel we were nearly to our next Air BnB, and then we got lost. The directions the host gave us for the place was really lacking, compared to our Shinjuku apartment host. Also, Google Maps was having trouble identifying the exact location, and the sun had started to go down.
Add to the issue that this was the most residential part of Japan we have seen thus far. With all the houses stacked right alongside and on top of one another like Lego pieces, this quickly became a recipe for failure. After climbing three flights of stairs to the first place I thought we were going to go, I realized that this building was wrong.
I had my wife stay there with our things while I went and checked the next building over. At this point Google is directing me towards what seemed like the back of these apartments, but was really just an open field. While I am doing checking the next building over a man poked his head out of a door, he looks at Emily, closes his door…. and begins to scream.
I was oblivious to that little exchange but had already started making my way back. I was about to explain that I think we may need to go around the block when I saw an old man. He started waving at us from the ground floor crossing his arms like an “X” and beckoning us to follow him.
At this point I figure we got nothing to lose, we were obviously lost and he seemed very annoyed. I think we scared the guy in his apartment and he called the super to get us away from the building. It may have only been 6pm but compared to Tokyo this area was very dark, with few street lamps. It appeared like half the neighborhood must have been asleep. The old guy half shooed, half showed us around the block and told us to just keep walking (all in hand gestures, no English).
By the time we got settled in we were tired, a bit culture shocked, and really not in the mood to jump through the hoops necessary to order dinner. So we took a walk to a local Lawson, think Wawa or 7-Eleven. We bought instant dinner and breakfast to put in the fridge. Pork chops and rice for dinner and pork chop rice balls for the morning!
Oh by the way, this apartment does not have three prong outlets, my laptop just died. I'm typing the rest of this from my cell phone. I get the feeling we are screwed.
Hopefully I can take a hot shower tonight.