Wow. If yesterday was busy, today might just have been busier. It’s a tough call.
I got up at 6:30, took my time getting ready, and then got stuck thinking about where I wanted to go to first, so I didn’t check out until 9:00 a.m.
When I got on the train to Kyoto at Shin-Osaka, it was jammed, so I had to stand all the way to Kyoto.
This was the start of a trend.
I got to Kyoto, and had to find a locker. This was a problem. Yesterday, I got to the station nice and early, around 8:30, so there were plenty of lockers to choose from.
But today, I only got in at around 9:45, and by then, about all of the lockers were gone. It was a fight to find something to cram my bags into. I really recommend getting to the station as early as possible if you want to use the lockers on the weekends. They fill up fast, especially the big ones Americans like me like to use.
I managed to find a locker eventually. B1F of Kyoto Station is your friend, locker-seeking people.
No Leaves? No Worries!
After that, I decided to go to Nijo Castle. My logic went like this: it’s historic, a World Heritage Site, and should be relatively devoid of leaf gawkers. Nijo Castle was the Kyoto residence of the Shoguns for over 200 years, so it’s a good place to visit in Kyoto if you want to see some history, and you’ve already had your fill of shrines and temples.
It was perfect for what I wanted. The grounds were great. Very attractive, but not full of fall colors to attract huge crowds. Well, there were some trees to look at, but since it wasn’t in any of the magazines, there wasn’t a huge crush of people.
The main castle was interesting. The main attraction for me were the “Nightingale Floors,” which squeaked like crazy so that nobody could sneak up on you.
When I finished up the main route through the castle and grounds, I wound up at the far corner of things, about 1 Km away from the entrance, so I had to hike all the way back to the entrance. It wasn’t as bad as it sounds.
After all of that, I headed to the bus stop outside of the Castle. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do next until I saw a bus go by that said “Kinkakuji” on it, and figured, “What the heck. I haven’t been there in a few years.” Then I looked inside the bus, and it was jammed all the way to the entrance doors. There was no way to even get on the bus, unless you just pushed your way on.
The people ahead of me in line were apparently not familiar with the concept of just cramming yourself in the bus, which is as applicable as it is on subways. It’s not like the next bus is going to be any LESS crowded, so you’re going to have to suck it up eventually if you want to get anywhere. There is no magically empty bus waiting for you, my dear princes and princesses. This is the height of tourist season, and everyone is on that bus, and everyone else is going to be on the next bus.
I met a nice guy from India while standing in line for the bus who went to the University of Michigan, so we chatted while waiting for the next bus to show up. Then we gritted our teeth and shoved our way on.
I’ll continue this in a “part 2” post, too, because it’s getting long.