Monday, October 08, 2007

On the rails

I've been travelling this weekend. It started with a Shinkansen to Tokyo, where I wandered for hours just getting as lost as possible. The Imperial Palace Gardens and a couple of parks form oases of tranquility, but otherwise Tokyo is a fairly hectic place. However the politeness and good manners of the people there make it much easier to cope with than some other cities of lesser size (I'm looking in your directions, Paris and London!)

The biggest excitement for me was actually leaving Tokyo - I caught the Ginga sleeper. I adore sleeper trains and, whilst it wasn't quite as comfortable as the capsule hotel, my little bunk/tent combo was very conducive to sleep. Waking up just after sunrise whilst travelling though the outskirts of Kyoto was fantastic - seeing the streets empty of cars and the station platforms all but deserted (apart for a few hardy Japanese trainspotters for whom a photo of the Ginga is much prized).

My colleague and friend Larissa and her daughter have been looking after me this weekend. They arrived in Osaka very late on Friday night, so my arrival at the crack of dawn on Saturday wasn't particularly well timed from their point of view! Nevertheless they've been the souls of hospitality. Larissa lived in Osaka for three years and her knowledge is invaluable - I've had to make hardly any effort at all - just follow where I'm led and some astonishing temples or heartbreakingly beautiful gardens or beautiful food is there in front of me.

Photos and videos will follow in a couple of days, with some more details about the temples and shrines that we've seen. I think I may be in love with Japan...

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