Following a full day and second night in Hiroshima we used our JR passes to take an early 8am bullet train from Hiroshima to Kyoto. If driven by car the 235 mile (378 km) distance would take almost 5 hours. Using our JR passes the bullet train took us from Hiroshima to Kyoto in under 2 hours. Even with multiple stops and a train change in Osaka, we averaged close to 120 mph! Less than the bullet train top speed of 200 mph but still much faster than driving by car.
The translation of the Japanese word Kyoto is "Capital City" and Kyoto was the capital of Japan for over 1,000 years from 794 to 1868. For modern day travelers Kyoto is well located with fast train service to both Osaka and Kobe. Kyoto is also convenient for local trains to Nara, where the world famous bowing deer are, and Uji, an area known for its Buddhist temple.The JR rail pass allowed us free travel on most intercity trains and many of the local trains such as those to Nara and Uji, making it convenient, fast and inexpensive to travel between cities.
Because it was so easy to travel to so many areas from Kyoto, as well as the many sights in Kyoto itself, we spent four nights at the Daiwa Roynet Hotel near the rail station. A word of warning though - there are multiple Daiwa Roynet hotels near the Kyoto train station. They are both walking distance from the station and I'm sure we weren't the only ones to go to the wrong one. That's probably why they had a ready made map showing you how to get from one Daiwa Roynet to the other. It's just a 10 minute walk according to Google Maps, but that's probably without luggage. That's also if you take the most direct route, which is through the train station. But in Japan train stations tend to be large, multilevel complexes. By the time we left Kyoto we were "fairly" familiar with the train station, but having just arrived we took the more "scenic" route around the train station, taking about 20 to 30 minutes.
Once checked in at the (correct) Roynet Hotel, we dropped off our luggage and headed back to explore the train station. According to the web page for the Kyoto station there are around 130 shops and restaurants in the train station. And at least one Craft Beer Market! Where we, of course, stopped for a lunch of beer and pizza. See the album for a picture of the extensive beer menu. The album also shows some other pictures from the train station, which tend to be interesting structures in their own right. Just touring the train station turned out to provide some interesting photographs on that first day.
Following the lunch and self guided tour of the Kyoto train station, we took a fast elevator ride to the top of the Kyoto tower. This offered some beautiful 360 degree views of Kyoto.
We finished the day with a "Local Eats and Streets, Gion and Beyond" evening tour of some of the Kyoto restaurants and temples. Unfortunately we only have a few pictures from this tour. But needless to say it was an interesting tour and we ended up returning to the hotel just before 11:30 pm. Another long and fun packed day!
Between the walks to/from and within train stations, our exploration of the Kyoto train station and the evening tour this day ended up being our day with the most steps: 27,179.