Kyoto II: Return to Kyoto

Tofu Donuts

I do not know, dear reader, whether you have yet investigated the Go! channel via your digital tuner. If, like me, you’ve turned it on during the day just to see, you’ll know that it plays repeats of The Nanny for the edification of bored housewives.

Well, that’s pretty much how it feels to be here in Nagoya: it seems to be entirely populated by women (and indeed men) with improbable shoes and enormous teased hair. Being our last full day in Japan, we had a lot of shopping to finalise before making the trip back, and we thought Nagoya would be perfect, being a shopper’s paradise.

Well, it is a shopper’s paradise, just not this shopper: it mostly caters to cashed up young women with abnormal hair. Not far into the morning, we realised we were faced with a choice: spend the better part of the day working out where what we wanted to buy was, or go someplace where we already knew where to find it. The discovery that Kyoto is only 37 minutes away by Shinkansen sealed the deal. We engaged our own Kyoto Protocol.

Yes, it was return to the City of Tofu, and it was lovely to be back where things make sense. Those are tofu donuts you see above, by the way: indistinguishable from the regular kind except that they’re not coated in cinnamon sugar, and certainly superior to Japan’s preferred donut, Mister Donut.

By now we know all of Kyoto’s tricks (ALL of them, no exceptions) so we got our one-day bus passes and zipped around like pros, insofar as any bus on an inner city route can be said to zip, which is to say, not at all. But we went back to a few places where we had seen beautiful things but hadn’t bought them for fear of having to lug them across Japan, which was very satisfying. Now we’ll have the additional satisfaction of devising a way of getting them home on the plane.

I still don’t feel I’ve grazed the surface of Kyoto: from the bus windows we kept seeing intriguing and beautiful sights begging to be explored, but sadly, we still didn’t have the time to look. Kyoto’s a place where you really need to be at your leisure to get sidetracked.

But we got our shopping done, helped some old ladies, I was rescued by fifteen businessmen when I fell over on an escalator, and we said farewell once again to a city where the bus drivers, inspired no doubt by the eponymous Protocol, turn their engines off at intersections. Farewell Kyoto; we may be gone from the tracks of platform 11, but you are not gone from the Shinkansen of our hearts.

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