Since I am leaving Japan a lot sooner than I thought, we have been trying to get out and see as many of the things we had planned on seeing during the last year we were here. This week we did a 3 day 2 night Shinkansen trip from Tokyo to Kyoto and Hiroshima. Quite honestly, it was nice to see all of this, but it is borderline work to jump off the trains, check your baggage at the hotel, and run from place to place trying to be as efficient as possible with so little time! Of course it will all be worth it once we process the photos, but it was a shame to not have more time to enjoy the sites along the way. We rode on the most modern Shinkansen, the N700, but I still think this E4 model pictured below is the coolest looking of them all.
Kyoto was our first destination along the worlds busiest hi-speed rail line, the Tōkaidō line. This line has a top speed of 270 km/h, but the N700 actually moves at 300 km/h (186 mph) on the adjacent Sanyō line. They look fast from the outside as they snake their way along the rails of Japan, but on the inside it is super smooth, and it doesn’t seem like you are really moving all that fast with the lack of noise and eardrum-busting pressure changes that I experienced with the German ICE trains when they enter tunnels. I read that the N700 is pressure sealed and when I was sitting next to the window, my leg could feel the frame of the train expand as it entered the middle of the tunnel and contract back into place as it exited the tunnel. I figure their must be a great deal of negative air pressure as it rushes through the tunnels, but I am no engineer, so that is just my theory..
Kyoto is a breeze to navigate. For only ¥500 (about $5) you can get an unlimited all day city buss pass, and on top of that, they give you a great map with all of the routes and nearby sites. The most difficult part is deciding which shrines to see, and with barely 24 hours to spend in Kyoto and a lot of shrines being closed at night, this made it difficult to see everything that we wanted, but that was our fault. We definitely were able to hit the most famous sites though. I would say the Golden Pavilion is easily one of the most popular sites I see on Flickr. I always thought this was the tackiest shrine I have ever seen, and in person, it still looked tacky, maybe I am just a jerk, but I really wanted to create a different take on this popular site. I think the gold looks perfect when paired with black and white.
The only beef I really had with Kyoto is that you are not allowed to use a tripod at most of the sites. Demonicus, my beloved tripod, was none too happy to hear about this. The bastards that made those rules are lucky they avoided confrontation with him as he pretty much hurts anyone he touches.