To Kyoto | Japan | Living in Mexico

To Kyoto

On Saturday, May 13, we ate our last breakfast at the sumptuous buffet of the Royal Park Shiodome Hotel. We trooped after Steve and Andy like a row of ducklings following their mother as they led us through the subway system for the ride to Tokyo Station. There, in a huge subterranean shopping mall, we bought Bento Box lunches, and boarded the Bullet Train (specifically, the Tokaido Shinkansen) for Kyoto.


We waited alongside the train while bustling attendants cleaned the cars. We carried only overnight bags, having sent our main luggage ahead the previous day because there isn't enough room on the Bullet Train to bring it all.

It seems like everything in Japan is undersized, and especially so for travelers. There wasn't enough drawer space in our hotel room, and it's incomprehensible to me that a train can't handle luggage.

On the train we settled into comfortable seats in our first-class car. Jean and I picked seats on the right in the hopes that we would catch a view of Mt. Fuji, but it was a rainy day, so no visibility.

Here, our group sits naïvely in their seats, while Steve plays a mournful harmonica as we hurtle to our dooms.


We rode a long way past unbroken urban scenery through Tokyo and its suburbs. The ride was smoother and much more quiet than flying. We never had the feeling we were traveling at speeds up to 300 kilometers per hour.

As we began to encounter rural Japan, I was struck by how green everything was, and how small the farms were. Many farmers appeared to be working little more than an acre of rice paddy. These were the most carefully tended plots I had ever seen. No waste piles, no abandoned farm machinery blighted the landscape. Sensitive crops snuggled under impeccably neat row covers. No weeds intruded in the plots. Nor did I ever see farm animals. I know they have them, but proportionately, there are far fewer of them than in the States or Mexico. The farms were gorgeous, and no doubt the produce grown on them was perfect and healthy, but this kind of farming has to be very expensive.

Getting underway, Andy stood in the aisle and taught us how to read Chinese characters. Well, maybe one or two of them. We ate our box lunches and a couple of hours later, we arrived in Kyoto.