Last Day in Kyoto

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We had two things left on our must see list—Nijo Castle and Fushimi Inari.  Despite them not being even close to one another, we made it happen.

First we hopped the JR West train from Kyoto Station to the Inari Station.  This drops you right off at Fushimi Inari.  Nothing but Torii (gates) and stone foxes here.  Really lovely stroll (albeit with lots of stair climbing).

We felt a little bad on occasion here as there seemed to be more people visiting here for religious purposes than for tourist purposes.  That certainly did add to the charm, though.  We really wanted to buy a stone fox from a gift shop in this town, but everyone seemed to sell the same ugly colored ceramic one.  Thus we had to settle on a stuffed one for Zizou (previously pictured).

Three trains later and we were at Nijo Castle—this was built in the 1600s.  The place was pretty well fortified with two separate moats:

What stole the show for us here was the garden.  If only we could make our backyard look a fraction like this.

There's no photography inside the buildings (which are very cool), so you'll have to see the rest in person.  You'll also need to hear for yourself the nightingale floors.

Back at Kyoto Station, we headed to the 9th floor for some ramen.  There are a whole bunch of ramen restaurants here, and we were immediately confused to see long lines at vending machines in front of each of the restaurants.  We then realized that you place and pay for your order at these machines.  Then you hand your receipt to the hostess and sit down.  Another delicious meal.

We wrapped up the meal with some ice cream cones:

Our bags were still at Kikokuso, so we made the quick 10 minute walk from Kyoto Station over there to pack our things up one final time.  We said our final goodbye to the adorable proprietors and rolled out luggage back down to Kyoto Station to start heading to the airport.

Along the way, we spent some of our last yen at one of the ubiquitous drink vending machines that are on every street corner and then some.  They can look something like this:

We had actually read about this Fanta drink in some Japanese tourist magazine I got in Seattle before the trip.  So when we saw it in a vending machine we had to get it.  It's a hyper carbonated grape soda that you shake before opening—and there are large grape jelly globs in it.  The weird part about it was that it was actually pretty good.

With the energy from this drink, we caught a train earlier than planned from Kyoto Station.  We hopped the JR West Haruka to Osaka Airport (KIX).  This is a 2,800 yen ride typically.  The trick though is to buy a one day JR West pass for 2,000 yen that covers the route.  We also used this same one-day pass to go down to Inari earlier in the day, so it was nice value.Seventy-five minutes later we were at KIX to start our long trek back home.

Sayonara, Japan.  We will definitely meet again…

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