Last week we set off to Japan for our summer holidays (our fifth trip to Japan! Bwaha!) Last year, our hagwon only allotted us 4 days of vacation at a time, but this year we got a whole week off for summer (and we may very well be getting ten days off for winter; amazing or what?!) We divided our week in Japan into hotel stays in Kyoto and Tokyo, with day trips to Osaka, Hiroshima, and Miyajima. I had grand delusions of squeezing in day trips to Nikko, Okunoshima (a.k.a. Rabbit Island), and Mt. Fuji as well, but there just wasn’t enough time (a great excuse to go back again, right?!)
We flew into Haneda Airport in Tokyo, and thanks to our 7-Day Japan Railways passes, hopped onto the Shinkansen straight down to Kyoto. About the JR passes: holy shmoly, these things were quite possibly the smartest holiday purchases we’ve ever made! You have to buy them before entering Japan (from this website), and at $281 per pass they will seem a tad overpriced, but TRUST ME: if you have any intention of traveling between at least two cities, you will certainly get your money’s worth and then some. You can also use the pass to make seat reservations on Shinkansen trains at no extra charge, and you can use them on local JR trains. I have no idea how much money we saved by using these things, but it was a buttload.
We stayed at the super swanky ANA Crowne Plaza hotel in Kyoto, which I got for a ridiculously cheap deal on Expedia. We stopped in at an information office in Kyoto Station to find out how to get to the hotel, and an exceptionally polite and kind old man informed us that the hotel operated a free shuttle bus between Kyoto Station and the hotel every 15 minutes or so; this also saved us heaps of money!
This was our second visit to Kyoto; we fell head over heels in love with it the first time, and our feelings only intensified during this trip.
I am always amazed by how seamlessly Japan weaves its past and present together, and this is so evident in Kyoto, where its brightly-lit shopping arcades are punctuated by dim alleys leading to tiny shrines and ancient relics.