Day 3 (30 December): Narita - Kyoto

Another train, this time the Shinkansen bullet train on the Tokkaido line.

Since arriving in Japan we had unsuccessfully tried to reserve our seats for this trip. However the holiday season meant there were no reserved seats on any train at any time today. The JR ticket officer was very helpful in writing down which train would best suit our timing, which platform it was on and advising it to catch it from Tokyo, not Shinagawa, because that was the best chance of getting an unreserved seat.

Narita to Tokyo on the Rapid was no problem. However Tokyo station was an absolute zoo. We don't think we've seen that many people trying to travel at the same time - even worse the Chicago O'Hare Airport on Memorial Day (which we've done twice!). Even just walking was difficult as once in a swimlane it has hard to get out before we were swept past where we wanted to go.

We secured some food and tea just in time and made it up to the platform to a sea of people waiting for trains. First priority was to find where the unreserved cars were. Second priority was to find the end of the queue to get on. The Japanese are a curious race - generally so polite and respectful but not so once the train doors opened. The queues promptly dissolved and there was a mad rush to get on. 

Third priority was to find seats. No empty seats in the first car so we kept going. It didn't look good in the second car either and we were contemplating standing up until we spied two vacant seats and grabbed them. Phew! Lucky we did - another flood of people got on behind us and indeed people did stand for parts  if not all of their journey.

We marvel at how light many people are able to travel. Most Japanese are getting on with a mid sized suitcase at the largest and here we are with a full size suitcase, backpack crammed to the zipper, wheelie carry-on bag and a big handbag. At least our Airpocket is keeping the travel documents organised.


The Shinkansen whisked us away from Tokyo and within half an hour we were passed Yokohama and out of the city. A vastly rapid pace compared to the day before. After we went through Mishima there was much excitement on board as Mt Fuji approached - people had their cameras and smartphones at the ready but alas the mountain was obscured by cloud. We were on the southern side of the mountain today so this could have been the cloud forming off the mountain like we saw the day before. We felt blessed to have got the view we did the day before.

We continued south west through Nagoya and onto Kyoto. A short subway ride to the Citadines Gojo-Karasuma which is modern and beautifully appointed. A quick rest and then we sampled the delights of Uni Qlo and Daiso at the Aeon Mall - a Japanese version of Westfield. Useful tip: Daiso is 100 yen 108 with taxes. Perfect for forgotten items, travel goods, cosmetics and the best value Japanese souvenirs from pottery to Kimono dolls, and beautiful Japanese style tea towels. With apologies for our family and friends this is all we spent.