Today was our first experience travelling on shinkansen without reserved seats. It was a Tuesday so we figured as long as we avoided rush hour and turned up early we would be OK. Unfortunately, just like our Tokyo to Hiroshima journey, our JR pass did not allow us to use direct trains to Kyoto so we had to change at Shin Osaka station again. We were right in our assumption about finding seats on the train and had no problems on our journey apart from navigating the crowded platforms with our large suitcases.
We arrived in Kyoto at lunch time and dropped off our bags at the hotel which is right by the station and went off in search of a park to eat our packed lunch which we bought before leaving Hiroshima. It was surprisingly cold during our stay in Kyoto and we were glad that there were vending machines in the park where we could buy hot coffee!
This is Lizzie’s exciting ekiben bento lunch. I wasn’t feeling adventurous so I had sandwiches and onigiri which were tasty but not very photogenic.
While sitting in the park we decided what to do with our afternoon in Kyoto. Unfortunately we were both feeling a bit unwell so we didn’t want to do anything too tricky. It was also cold and windy so we looked for something to do inside. We decided to visit the Kyoto International Manga Museum. Unfortunately this turned out to be in completely the opposite direction and quite a long walk.
Entering the Manga Museum is possibly the most Japanese customer service experience we had on our trip. There is a vending machine selling tickets just inside the doorway, something by now we are quite used to. Standing next to the machines are attendants who show you where to insert your money and press the relevant buttons for you. They take your tickets from the machine and hand them to you and then escort you literally 2 metres to the reception desk where another attendant validates your tickets and lets you in.
The Manga museum is a lot more like a library than a museum. Thousands of books line the walls throughout and all are available to take down and read if you want. There are apparently some in English but, apart from the section specifically for “English manga” which contains things like Watchmen, we didn’t find any. There are some interesting exhibits about the creative process and history and some exhibits about specific manga and characters. As with a lot of the museums we visited, much of the Japanese descriptions of exhibits was not translated leaving us a little clueless. If you know a lot about Japanese manga and especially if you can read a bit of Japanese then this place would probably be a lot more exciting.
Some of the more interesting exhibits in the museum were actually about the history of the building which used to be a school before it was turned into a museum. You can still see the playground at the front of the building.
We travelled back to the hotel using the Kyoto metro which has 2 lines that run east/west and north/south and cross over near the museum. It took us a long while to work out the pricing system and purchase a ticket. The tickets are tiny and it turns out are very easy to lose, especially if you aren’t expecting them to come back out of the barrier machine! It turns out we didn’t need to worry about getting the right ticket as you can just get the cheapest one and then pay the difference at the exit.
We ate dinner back at the hotel and went to bed early to recover our energy for a full day tomorrow.