Thursday, July 22, 2010

From Hiroshima to Kyoto

Today was Lior's birthday. We had a small celebration early in the morning. We had a cake we bought yesterday, and the candles were arranged on top.

We then moved to the breakfast room to the very impressive breakfast arranged by our hosts. This time we took a camera to record the event and also took pictures with Rev Toru.

After breakfast we finished packing our stuff and farewell pictures with our hosts.

The plan was to leave Hirsoshima to Kyoto. We debated whether to stop at some point of interest or get directly to Kyoto. When we got to the train station we found it in disarray. Many people standing in line, and people announcing information by load speakers. It took a while to understand what is going on, but we learned that the Shinkansen line between Osaka and Himaji is blocked and thus there are traffic delays.

Later we found out that two service trains collided and derailed inside a tunnel early in the morning, which caused major problems to remove them, and that the travel of about 60,000 people was delayed.

We took the shinkansen to Okayama (a city between Hiroshima and Himaji), and then a local train (going back a bit) to Kurashiki. This is a small town known as an old commerce center. The old town is dominated by a canal that connects to a network of canals leading to the inner sea. The canal is lined with weeping willows that give it a well known ambiance.

This canal was lined by storage house for commercial goods. Today these houses were renovated to small museums and stores.

In spite of the heat (a record breaking day we later found out) we did manage to stroll through the main street. We say tourists that took a ride on small boats through the canal, and merchants selling goods.

We entered the local toy museum, but it looked a bit small and was not air conditioned and so we skipped a visit there. Instead we entered a gallery that had a contemporary art show that had few interesting pieces (and of course, it had a serious A/C which was the main deciding point for it).

We breaked for lunch at a very nice restaurant along the canal-side.

We then took the bus back to the station and rode the local train back to Okayama. By this time the train system has recovered, and we managed to get places on the Shinkansen back to Kyoto.

This time we had a reservation in a hotel inside the station building itself. We found out that the station extends beyond our previous knowledge. It is hard to understand the magnitude of the building, it spans 3 or 4 underground floors, and about 15 above-ground floors. The distance from end to another is several hundred meters (470 according to wikipedia).


Much of this large structure is dominated by inner open spaces that can be traversed by very long escalators.

Our hotel, the Kyoto Granvia is a railway hotel operated by the Japan Rail company, and offers special rates for holders of JR passport. This was the most upscale hotel we stayed in our trip, with impressive bathroom system and large convenient rooms.

We used the opportunity to relax after few days of travel and enjoy the luxury of the rooms and the fact that we had internet connection again.

I went out for an evening photography tour of the station to see the views toward the Kyoto Tower next door and inside toward the big inner space.

The large marble walls of the station allowd for interestign play with reflections.

The moon also provided a nice opportunity for photos.

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