Tuesday 3 September 2019

Train to Kyoto

Alexei is feeling a bit better today. I think the paracetamol I gave him helped. Either that or the vodka. I’m such a good father.

We walk to the station. It’s really not worth pissing around with a taxi. We’re still sweaty messes when we get there. Despite it only being a few hundred metres. And it still being quite early.

“Where’s the air-conditioned waiting room?” Andrew has his priorities. Can’t say I blame him, though. It’s dead hot again.

The train is much quieter today. And we have reserved seats. In the "green carriage", which is the equivalent of first class. On some trains our JR rail passes are valid in them. It's still crazy hot. But at least we’re travelling first class.

We zoom through a typical Japanese landscape of dead flat, bright green paddy fields, backed by tree-crowded hills, or sometimes stony mountains. Punctuated by the odd and oddly densely-packed settlement. Quite soothing. Especially when you have a seat. And a can of Suntory Highball in your hand.

I'm slightly worried about the approaching typhoon. Which is scheduled to make landfall in a couple of days. Luckily we're moving east - it's predicted to hit Hiroshima pretty much head on.

The trains, as you would expect, are dead reliable. Mostly leaving and arriving on the dot. There are a crazy number of trains - there's a shinkansen every 5 or 6 minutes.

Japan really is as fun as 10 fun sticks. Amazingly safe, polite, friendly, and even more queue disciplined than the UK. And they have German sausages. It's like Germany plus. In all the good ways. It's really like all the best bits of Germany and the UK combined.

We roll into Kyoto dead on time. It’s still effing hot. That doesn’t seem to change. We head outside in search of a taxi.

The taxi drivers were wearing "foreigner friendly" armbands. Makes you wonder if they have foreigner unfriendly taxi drivers, too. Never mind. We’re soon ensconced in a cab and rocking and rolling the way to our hotel.

Our hotel rooms are big this time. With a little kitchen, too. Dead handy. Alexei has a look through the cutlery draw. “Look at these, Dad.” He says, holding up a huge pair of kitchen knives.

“Handy for if I turn psycho after the shops have closed.”

“Don’t you mean when, Dad?”

Alexei informs me that there's a temple nearby. I'm more interested in the nearest offie.

“7 11 for snacks?”

“Too fucking right, Dad.”

“And whisky?”

“Strong Zero, Dad, Strong Zero.” Andrew is really getting into this alcopop.

I treat myself to a ready meal from the 7 11 opposite. And a bottle of whisky. Spirits are crazily cheap here. A full bottle is the same price as three half litre cans of beer.

The kids are fascinated by the bread section. Oddly the bread comes in packages of 2, 4, 5 and 6 slices. We saw a bread advert on the TV and it was as weird as fuck. The slices are about double as thick as Warburtons. Obviously, Alexei insisted on buying some, especially as our rooms have a toaster. And one wide enough to take the crazy thick slices.

We hang around in the kids’ room, watching weird Japanese TV. Pretty much all the programmes, other than the news, are weird. Andrew and Alexei are drinking Strong Zero, while I sip on a Suntory whisky. Strong Zero is also made by Suntory. They seem to manufacture pretty much every kind of drink, alcoholic and non-alcoholic.

The kids really love it here. I'm just enabling them really.

1 comment:

Andrew Elliott said...

If you're back in Tokyo check out the Hitachino Nest place. It's been a few years since i was there but I recall it was pretty decent. Many years ago I had the pleasure of Kiuchi-san giving me the full tour of his brewery on a Sunday afternoon (drove me with fiancee and her folks from his pilot/show room out to the real facility).

Also for a bit more traditional the Ebisu Beer Garden (Yebisu?) was pretty good. Happy travels!