My last day in Kyoto I decided to try and visit one last temple before catching the train back to Osaka. Just a short distance from my hotel, it would be an easy way to kill a few hours. I walked to the temple in staggering heat. When I arrived I was only focused on finding water and a shady spot to sit. I guess my trip to the temple was wasted. I didn’t even have the desire to take photos. Nearing 40c, it was just too hot.
I decided to head underground where it’s cool, even if not air conditioned. The perfect place would be the train. I needed to get to the main station to get back to Osaka anyways, so I started heading there.
Catching the metro was easy enough. I’d passed the station earlier, so I knew exactly where it was. Buying a ticket was a no-brainer as the pre-paid card I already had was good for this line. I waited at the platform for a few minutes and hopped on the first train that arrived. It was then that my jaw hit the floor. I had stumbled upon a “Limited Express” train. This train makes very few stops, hence the name. To make things more comfortable, this car had plush deeply padded seats arranged in a way that you’d expect in business class on an airline. Only 3 seats per row, and not very many rows. Lots of space and comfort!
I found a seat and as the train started to move, the joy I had felt quickly turned to panic: What if this train wasn’t going to stop where I wanted? Would I be taken past my destination? Would I end up in the next TOWN?
There were diagrams of the train’s route above every door. I was able to see in a few seconds that yes, I would be alright. The train would stop where I wanted to change trains. What a relief!
In just a couple of minutes, I left my far-too-comfortable seat and got off at my stop. I knew I had to change train lines, but since I had never been to this station before, I didn’t know where to go. I started looking for signs. In short order I was where I needed to be, or at least where I thought that was.
A train soon appeared and quickly passed through the station without stopping. An exress, I figured. Then another appeared, but this one didn’t go to Kyoto Station, where I was heading. The next one and the next too were not heading there. I guessed that something was wrong. Did I get off at the wrong stop?
I found an employee at the station entrance and asked as best I could how to get to Kyoto Station. He told me “JR Line”. JR is a private company that has a vast rail network in Japan. He also said “Station that way” and pointed over his shoulder. I thanked him and headed off.
Exiting the station, I found myself facing an entrance to the “next station”. My pre-paid card doesn’t work on the JR line, so I was forced to buy another ticket to take this train. The trains really are cheap, so I didn’t mind too much. Entering the JR station, I looked around. Not only was I 10 feet from where I had started, I was on the *same platform*. They’ve built a wall down the middle of the platform and given the new “station” it’s own name. Wow.
Once at the main station, I bought a ticket and asked when the next train to Osaka was. “In 8 minutes or 1 hour and 8 minutes”. I asked for the later train. I was hungry and wanted to find some Ramen or maybe a few dumplings.
Kyoto station is not extremely large in size, but it is a VERY tall glass structure. I wanted to take a photo of roof from a high vantage point, so I began to look around. Riding an escalator up one level, I saw a sign pointing to “Skywalk”. It led me to another escalator and another and another until I was at the very top of the roof. The entire length of the station has a glassed in catwalk. It’s not that great for viewing the station itself, but you can find a really nice view of Kyoto from up there. Before heading down to the 8th floor, where 5 Ramen shops were waiting, I decided to try a panorama shot.
Here it is (and it’s BIG, so it may take some time to load):