Japan, May 2014: Day Sixteen

It’s so ridiculously hot, we’ve adopted a no sun policy and will currently do all we can to avoid being out in the heat during the day. However, we missed a mall yesterday and so decided to hit that before jumping on a train to a shrine – how very Kyoto of us.

The plan was to walk through the station to the mall and then use the JR Pass to get to the shrine… Unfortunately, the station is becoming somewhat of a nemesis of mine. There didn’t seem to be anyway of getting from the north to the south entrance without going through the platform gates. Instead, we took the time to do what many other tourists fail to do in Kyoto Station (we’ve watched them) and that is look up!

When we arrived on the Shinkansen, our platform was in a different part of the building and so we never actually visited the main station. If we had, our hatred for the layout may have been somewhat lessened by the sheer beauty of the structure. It appears to have been designed by many compartmentalised teams of architects as there is almost no continuity from the roof down. To a couple of obsessive compulsive symmetry freaks like Emma and I, this should have driven us so crazy we’d have to leave, never to return. However, there’s something so amazing about it, the sight was almost hypnotic.

From the ground floor (there’s 3 basement floors we can ignore) three sets of escalators take you to the 11th floor of the incorporated mall without ever really leaving the lobby. The internal space hosts restaurants, a stage for live performances as well as the comparatively mundane ticket office etc… If you travel all the way to the top, you can relax in the roof top garden and enjoy amazing views of the city. We saw at least three school parties whilst wandering around – I doubt they were there to travel anywhere, just look around the station itself.

We grabbed breakfast on the second floor, overlooking the main entrance and ticket gates. We spent about 30 minutes people watching before deciding to go and find the illusive mall. From the rear, the station kinda looks like a massive container ship, quite a contrast to the traditional temples and pagodas of the Kyoto skyline.

We eventually found the mall and after a quick shop, jumped on the subway and headed up town. Rather than face the midday sun at the proposed shrine, we opted for a covered shopping district in a less touristy part of the city. We have become obsessed with models and toys, so this was a good chance to do some window shopping before returning to Tokyo and doing it for real. The place had a really cool atmosphere, with independent designers alongside major brands it was a good place to explore.

We spent the afternoon in and out of quirky shops and even a western antique shop at one point… It looked like the inside of Emma’s dream house. We also had our photo taken with some girls for their website… We assume it was their teacher taking it – but who knows?

We came home with a few lightweight, transportable toys and have promised to get up early to make it to a temple/shrine in the morning.