2016 Japan summer trip (day 2)

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July 24
6:03 am – Got up
I was actually woken up both by my 5:10 and 5:25 alarms but both times I managed to swipe in the correct direction to dismiss it and go back to sleep. Finally, after the 6:00 alarm, I was able to get my ass off the bed.

7:15 am – Checked out

8:42 am – At Kyoto station

9:37 am – At Shijo Dori and Kawaramachi intersection
I walked from Shijo station to look for a good viewing spot, preferably near the intersection but as I was getting closer, the number of spectators was also increasing. I had originally planned to arrive earlier to secure a good spot but since I started the day an hour late, I had to make the best of what I ended up with.

It wasn’t a bad spot at all: see the red arrow (image from here).
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Ok, so whats the event? It’s Yasaka Shrine’s festival, Gion Matsuri. From what I’ve read it is one of Japan’s most famous festivals and it takes place during the entire month of July. There are many events but the July 17 (for 2016) procession of floats is the highlight. Unfortunately I missed that but I was lucky enough to witness the events on the 24th.

11:47 am – Gion Matsuri processions ended
I knew there were two processions scheduled for that day. I couldn’t remember the exact route (forgot to bring a digital copy of the map above) but I was pretty sure it was going to pass along the intersection near Gion Shijo station. I couldn’t look it up as I still hadn’t bought a sim card at the time.

I previously had no idea the BIC Camera store near Kyoto station opens at 10 in the morning. There was no other option, really, if I waited for the store, I wouldn’t have seen the procession. So I just went with what I remembered.

As the day went on, the Hanagasa parade came by (pink arrow on the above image) and I realized I was a bit far away from it.
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From where I was standing, if I held up three fingers an arm’s length away from my face, I wouldn’t be able to see the procession. I still ‘documented’ it though.


Hanagasa parade (pink route on the map) coming from Yasaka Shrine.

Then the Ato-Matsuri parade came along.


Ato-Matsuri parade (green route on the map).

Here are some highlights from the Ato-Matsuri parade:

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When turning corners, these medium-sized floats were lifted by the men surrounding it. Sometimes they would even overshoot the rotation by more than 360 degrees, to show off I guess. And the crowd would cheer when they do it.

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Whereas, for these giant floats, they would fix the rear inner wheel so as to serve as a pivot and put long pieces of bamboo slabs under the other three wheels while the people holding the ropes pull the float in the direction they will be turning.

The bamboo slabs aren’t long enough for one continuous pull for the float to be rotated 90 degrees, so they do this in three pulls. Each time the bamboo slabs are re-positioned so that the wheels have something to slide on.

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This was the last float on the Ato-Matsuri parade.

A few minutes after the Ato-Matsuri parade passed by, I saw the Hangasa parade going through the same direction.

Some highlights from the Hanagasa parade:

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There were more children on the Hanagasa parade.

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There were more women on the Hanagasa parade too.

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The parade was forced to veer off to the right because an ambulance was coming through.

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Kimono-clad geishas were riding the float.

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Another group of kimono-wearing geishas.

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The Hanagasa parade was a bit longer than the Ato-Matsuri parade.

12:19 pm – At Kyoto station
After the processions, I made my way back to Kyoto station to purchase the sim card from BIC Camera.

1:03 pm – Internet setup
Bought the same 1gb for 30 days worth 2656JPY.
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1:26 pm – On the way to Kyoto Railway Museum
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The museum is a 1.7-km walk going West from Kyoto station. I can’t remember why I walked even though my right ring toe was already hurting.

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I also passed by Kyoto Aquarium on the way to the railway museum.

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Ice cream trains!

1:51 pm – Kyoto Railway Museum
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How to get there: 20 minutes on foot to the West from Kyoto station’s central gate. Or if you’re lazy, take bus 205 or 208 (fare costs 230 JPY, or none if you have the bus pass) from B3 at the Kyoto station bus stop and get off at Umekoji-koen-mae. You should see Umekoji park on the left side, go through the underpass on the right side to get to the entrance hall.

Admission: 1200JPY for adults (18 & above), 1000JPY for university and high school students, 500JPY for junior high and elementary school students, and 200JPY for children 3 years old and above.

They are open from 10:00 am to 5:30 pm everyday except on Wednesdays and December 30 – January 1. You can get in until before 5:00 pm.

Trains galore! You’ll immediately be treated to three trains after going through the entrance.
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Here’s a run through of the first few trains you’ll see after entering.

A lot more trains await you on the first floor of the museum’s main building.
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An old locomotive train. Behind it is the escalator going to the second floor.

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One of the three trains on display in the middle of the floor, a series 500 Shinkansen.

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The one beside the series 500 Shinkansen. The kanji says ‘month’ and ‘light’.

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Not sure, but I think they were ordered from most recent to oldest. Though I have no idea if the three are somehow related.

A couple more old trains located somewhere behind the first three:
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Probably an older Shinkansen model:
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I was basically just taking pictures of the trains that I saw.

Some trains had their cross-sections shown so people can see the inside. Like this one:
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And this one:
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And this too:
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Even the insides were accurate (series 500 Shinkansen from the back door).
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Some were placed on either an elevated area or above a sort of tunnel so their undercarriage can be seen.
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You can clearly see the moving parts (they’re not moving though).
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Let’s not forget the part that enables the train to get electricity.
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There’s a button that makes this one go up (to touch the copper-colored wire above) and down.

There’s also the railway companies that have operated/are operating in the area.
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Of course there’s a station on display too.
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The ‘items for sale’ might not be real though.
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There’s also a railroad crossing station.
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Moving up to the second floor, there’s a giant room with a huge diorama. I wasn’t sure if it was the actual replica of the city but towards the end I saw a part that looked a lot like the railway museum.

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Here’s the part that looked similar to the museum (or it could be just a run of the mill rail yard):
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The second floor layout has an open area in the middle where you can clearly see the first floor and with many more exhibits on the outer side.
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The giant diorama room is on the right side.

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After doing a lap on the second floor, I found a path that leads to a sort of viewing area where you can see the rail lines that lead to Kyoto station.
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Look! The real Shinkansen.

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Could not count how many tracks there are. Kyoto tower can be seen from the left side. I’m not sure about the pagoda on the right side, though it can’t be the one near Ninenzaka (Yasaka no To).

From the viewing area, there’s a path that leads to the museum’s rail yard.
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Some views on the way down.
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I saw some more trains parked on the tracks on the right side. These are not part of the museum but they’re still trains, so…
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And here we are.
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There was a functioning train (probably coal) on the right side that I think people can get on. I didn’t know if it went somewhere or just stayed in place.
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Here are some of the trains on ye ole yard:
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After a few minutes rest, I headed back to Kyoto station.

3:02 pm – On the way to Kyoto station
Why I still walked the same 1.7-km route back to Kyoto station after giving the right ring toe more beating while roaming around the museum is beyond me.

4:00 pm – Train to Yamashina station

4:06 pm – At Yamashina station
I waited a bit for Tetsuo-san to pick me up. I had a chance to get off of my feet before heading to my ‘Kyoto home’.

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Saw a flock of pigeons near the Keihan Yamashina station (there were two stations here, JR and Keihan). I bet I would’ve caught a pidgey had I installed Pokemon Go the previous day.

5:36 pm – At my ‘Kyoto home’
The first thing I did after settling in was to try to install Pokemon Go for the second time. I had no luck the other day as it wasn’t even showing up on the Play Store’s search results. This time though, it was definitive:
fuuuuu
Bummer.

Anyway, same old same old.
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This is the reason I forgot to bring soap, shampoo, and a towel.

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Pink!

9:12 pm – Off to Kyoto station

9:37 pm – Bus to Shijokawaramachi station

9:57 pm – At Sanjokeihan station
I was supposed to get off at Shijokawaramachi but somehow after Sanjokeihan, only one station was left and it wasn’t Shijokawaramachi. Turns out some of the streets were closed off due to the Gion matsuri festivities (the area around Gion was still crowded).
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Good thing the place looked familiar and I already had an idea how to get to Shijokawaramachi. Google maps helped but if I totally had no idea, it would have taken me longer as I would be checking the nearby bus stops to make sure I’m getting on the right bus.

10:02 pm – Bus at Shijokawaramachi station to Kyoto station

10:08 pm – At Kyoto station
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I totally forgot to check out the stairs at the right side. There could have been some artwork/display on them.

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Kyoto tower at night.

The Willerexpress bus stop was at the south side of the station. On the way there I saw a map of the city where the floats used on the Gion processions were located.
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10:34 pm – At Willerexpress bus stop
I had a little over two hours to kill. What did I do? Just sat there waiting if they’d turn off the lights on Kyoto station’s Shinkansen tracks.
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There was a clear view of the Shinkansen tracks from where I sat until before the bus arrived.


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