Previously: I had taken the bullet train to Kyoto
Standing in the main lobby of Kyoto Station, I briefly considered getting lunch.
At the time, I wasn’t aware that the station was attached to a mall, thus I was googling restaurants in vain, attempting to break through the language barrier. At best, I inferred there was a really good noodle shop nearby, but because I didn’t want to awkwardly lug around my suitcase. I figured I could just eat after I got to the hotel.
Ignorantly, although I could tell it was major bus stop, it didn’t occur to me that Kyoto Station was a subway stop. Thus, using Google Maps, I checked how much of a walk it would be to Centurion Cabin & Spa – my hotel for the next four nights.
(And as you can probably guess from the last post, the thought of taking the bus made me too anxious, so walking sounded just fine.)
I like to think I was used to walking long distances. On Maps, it didn’t look like that far of a walk and it was apparently only 25 minutes.
Oh, how foolhardy I was…
I genuinely consider a 25-minute walk no big deal. I enjoy getting from A to B when there’s dynamic scenery in-between (abundant in Japan). It gives me a chance to listen to podcasts distracted. It’s good, modest exercise! I didn’t, however, factor in a suitcase and uneven road into the equation.
By the time I got to the hotel, I was sweating like a pig.
I won’t describe everything I saw on-route, but I’ll mention some highlights.
- 7/11. I know that doesn’t sound like much but it’s good to note convenience stores for snack or drink needs.
- An English pub. Like, a pub that caters to foreigners.
- A huge, cool-looking shrine.
- A couple classic Japanese architecture tea-shop looking stores.
- A very fancy hotel.
- A rental bike place.
The longer I walked the hungrier I got. It had been hours since breakfast and my stomach was grumbling like no tomorrow. Thus, in the last five-minute stretch of the walk I spotted a restaurant called ‘Eggs N’ Things’ and I was instantly sold.
I nearly missed Centurion Cabin & Spa the first time because it’s store front was hardly three meters wide. It, like all the other stores in that district, were squeezed together to maximize space. Inside was a traditional Japanese-aesthetic decoration and several roped off suitcases. Clearly some sort of group had some through before afternoon check-in.
I too was too early, so I asked if I could leave my luggage like the rest of the folks. I guess I had good timing because when I inquired the front desk, they said I could check in. My cabin was clean and ready! So I paid for my stay (which I was surprised at, you’d think you’d pay afterwards) WITH my credit card – thank the lord!
Centurion is a capsule hotel, so instead of keys you get a pass-card. It allowed access to my women-only floor from the elevator and then into the room itself. A safe system for anyone worried about their stuff or creeps. I guess it’s kind of an honor system since the cabins can’t be locked. Though, all things considered, it wouldn’t be smart to leave your stuff unattended.
Anyway, I grabbed my key-card, my redeemable breakfast cards, and a yukata – to be used for the spa. I headed up to my floor and dropped my suitcase off by my cabin – bottom bunk.
I was crazy hungry by then, so I didn’t really take a grand tour. Relieved of the extra weight, I made a bee-line for Eggs N’ Things. Checking the English(!) menu outside, I was once again sold so I headed in.
Eggs N’ Things originated from Hawaii, which explains the western-style layout. I gotta be honest, it just had a super cute aesthetic. Like a cottage mixed with a summer house and the employees had equally cute aprons for uniforms! The tables had little wicker baskets to put your stuff in. If I could, I would absolutely open a branch in Canada.
I ordered an alcoholic lemonade and eggs benedict. (As you can imagine, it’s an egg-heavy menu.) Simply put, it was delicious. My hunger may have affected that, but damn it was good. I had never had such amazing eggs benefit before, but I rarely eat them before so, low bar to pass.
Thoroughly stuffed, I paid and really, really considered buying some Eggs N’ Things merch, but acted against it.
I’m not entirely sure of the chronology of the rest of November 7, so the rest of this post is all over the place time-wise.
I rested in my Cabin for a couple of hours to watch CNN, browse social media/YouTube, and generally rest.
I explored the area around the hotel; the Nakagyo Ward according to Maps. I also walked through Nishiki Market, taking in the views and fishy smells. It was damn crowded and damn annoying, because while locals were doing their shopping, tourists were clogging the walkway taking pictures. It was an area the size of a high school hallway, so I was forced to wait or forcefully push my way through.
Oh, I’ll just briefly mention that I was finally seeing more foreigners in Kyoto. I saw a couple black people and my heart soared – not that I did anything besides smile nicely as he passed each other on the street.
I was just kind of walking around. I visited the bento-box shop run by a foreigner that carried the Cooking With Dog set, but didn’t buy anything. It was getting late by the time I was out walking, so shops were closing down – or appeared to be.
I visited two bookstores – one similar to Chapters and one like a library in a loft – but didn’t buy anything. As you can imagine, their English selection was very small.
The most prominent activity that night was me visiting a claw-machine arcade.
Damn those claw-machines. They’ve got such tempting prizes but they’re near impossible to win unless you’re willing to spend $20 practicing and sacrificing all your 100yen coins (the most useful coin). These machines aren’t like those at home, they all have different gimmicks to beat. Course the people who work there make it look easy – bastards.
I spent about 700yen or so on these machines. Most going towards a Ghibli based prize. Though not quick enough, I learnt my lesson and for the rest of the trip I was never again tempted. As I left, the worker (a young man who cutely/weirdly called me ‘Onee-chan’) encouraged me to stay, but I politely declined.
I didn’t fall for your tricks, siren.
The second most prominent activity was visit Tokyu Hands. God bless Tokyu Hands. I love that store and everything in it. I’m not sure what you could categorize the store, as it holds a lot of merchandise. I wouldn’t call it a department store – there were no clothes or big appliances. But it’s not like a Walmart because there weren’t any groceries or laptops. Wikipedia calls it a department store, which makes sense since it has ‘departments,’ just not what the west would typically consider a department store.
Anyway – it was just a really cool store. It had an amazing stationary supply; nearly a whole store dedicated to it! They sold papercraft, suitcases, cards, bento boxes, and leather working tools. That last one was so crazy I had to take a picture of it. I unfortunately couldn’t explore to my hearts content as I entered just ten minutes before closing.
The night ended with desert. I don’t believe I had dinner that night, because I had lunch very late and I wasn’t getting hungry. But I knew I would likely get hungry during the night if I didn’t eat, so I figured I’d have desert.
Japanese desert is just on another level. Their cakes are much lighter than ours and the presentation is stylist. Even the simplest places – like where I visited, a Café chain – have cute presentations for their sundaes.
I had walked by this chain a few times going up and down the area, but I decided on it based on its display food in the window – specifically it’s yummy looking ice cream.
So I walked in and ordered via the point menu. Vanilla-strawberry sundae and milk tea. I loved the aesthetic of that café because it was just so trendy. The kind of vibe Starbucks only half achieves. I think having two stories really worked to their advantage.
IIRC, this was also the night I skyped a friend while having this sundae. We chatted briefly, catching up and ensuring I was okay.
It was a full day, so I think I called it a night early. I was probably in bed by 10PM.
Next time: Spicy Japanese Curry