Today was a beautiful mistake. After extensively planning my trip to Kyoto the previous day, myself and a friend ended up taking the wrong train to another town in the Kansai area - Nara. From the outset of this trip, however, one could have said that it was fate for us to abandon our extensive plans and discover something new.
In the morning, relying on Google Maps’ understanding of the JR system, we assumed that we would have plenty of time to make it to our 6:26 Shinkansen to Kyoto from Tokyo Station. We woke up as early as 4:30, made it to the Shinjuku Station by 5:35, and found that the first train from Shinjuku that day would not be leaving until 5:50, giving us barely any time (around 5 minutes) to change platforms at the Tokyo Station. We therefore made our way to the Tokyo Station expecting that we would miss our first Shinkansen (which would have been fine, we would’ve just taken the next one). On arriving at the station, however, in a final act of faith we dashed from the JR platforms to the Shinkansen platform (with no prior knowledge of the station layout), and made it to our train ~~ (with around 20 seconds to spare before the doors closed).
Only after settling into my seat did I remember that I had also picked a curious day to travel, given that for the last couple of days the Southern part of Japan was facing a nasty typhoon. Luckily, our Shinkansen shot through the the stormy regions like a bullet, and before we knew it we had arrived at the Kyoto Station.
In Kyoto, we were planning on seeing several popular tourist shrines, temples, and city spots, starting with the Fushimi Inari Shrine, southeast from Kyoto Station. It so turned out that we failed to find the right connecting train to get to there from Kyoto Station. The whole situation was a bit tricky because we had to take a different rail system to get there, since the normal line was shut down due to the typhoon. However, after boarding some train we thought was the right train, we found ourselves having to pay roughly ￥1000 for a ticket that took us all the way to Nara. Ex-post-facto, we decided to stay on the train and venture through this place we had no clue about.
Nara was awesome. Our adventure began from the train station we got off at, which was in fact a few stops too early, which meant we got to walk through some awesome 本田 (rice paddies). We eventually found our way to the right train station, met up with another friend, and headed our way to the deer park. The deer in Nara are aggressively cute.
After spending most of the day walking around Nara, hiking up a hill to see a few shrines, and decided to retire in the evening.
To make the trip come a full circle, we finished off our excursion at the Fushimi Inari shrine in Kyoto, which was breath-taking. On our hike through the 1,000 torii gates, we stopped at a lake along the path which was shrouded in mist. It looked like a setting from Kurosawa Akira’s Throne of Blood.
The mystique of Kyoto is irresistible.