Individual Houses

Last chance to use the Onsen and outdoor shower this morning so there was no stopping us. This could easily become a lifestyle habit. You know, if it wasn’t always so cripplingly cold in the UK…

We found our way back to the coffee house for a hotdog breakfast this morning. Is it just a Western thing to have cereal for breakfast, most Asian countries I’ve been to have noodles or some form of rice for breakfast? This time we came in tow of our bags as it’s enroute to the hill train station. 

Turns out I’m way more of a train nerd than I thought I was. I’m not sure if I mentioned this in a previous post or not, but this train can climb some serious gradient. Its not got a cog rail, so I’m not sure how it’s doing it. Especially according to the informative English pre-recorded announcement onboard, the train sprays water on the rails on the sharpest corners to reduce wear. But it also makes 3 changes in direction on the way up to tackle the steep slopes. I didn’t put “train nerd” in my tinder profile for obvious reasons, Aimi would never have agreed to date me if she knew!

This was our last descent of the mountain and by a stroke of luck it was a really old train waiting to take us. You know, the type well before health and safety made everything boring by trying to preserve the life and limbs of the idiots. The idiots who hang out of train windows that open all the way trying to get good photos and selfies… those ones.

We are off to Kyoto today and get to ride the bullet train again! Its expensive (well is it?) It costs a lot of money. But it covered 392km in 2 hours and made 4 stops along the route. So it was at least averaging 200kph the entire way which is pretty impressive. I need to find an app that shows me my current speed from GPS. I want see how fast it goes on our last journey down to Hiroshima next week.

Arriving in Kyoto, it’s a few hours till we can check in, so we FINALLY found Aimi a restaurant that serves ramen. It was very good, but a little pricey for water and noodles in my opinion. With some more time to kill I wanted to go look around the station and it’s attached mall. There is a huge atrium or some kind of steel frame roof that encloses a large area I wanted to see. Aimi was getting very grumpy carrying bags around so we got her some ice cream and waffles to cheer her up.

It was time to go and find our house so we boarded a local train and I got way too excited about the seats. The backs push over the bases so they can switch direction! It’s a brilliant design and works so elegantly, I went up and played with it a few times… strange foreigner. 

Aimi had picked this house we were headed to. There was a little trepidation as the Ryokan had taught us sitting on the floor is fun for a while, but gets achy. We followed some wonderfully compact streets with huge tangles of wires running overhead. It occured to Aimi on the train ride here that all the houses are different shapes. It’s rare to see two side by side that are the same. Whereas in England, if you say you live in a 2 bed house, without even seeing it, I’m sure I could tell you the layout. And the huge English housing estates that grow on the outskirts of towns, clone after revolting clone of cardboard houses… 

Her observation struck a chord with me. It is so refreshing to see so much variety and individuality expressed in the use, budget and grandeur of each families house. Only have a saloon car, no need for a full height garage, just build one 5ft high. Need an outdoor space to dry clothes, climb out a window onto a deck on the roof. To a westerner (and to some extent I agree) this all looks incredibly messy and haphazard. But surely there is a happy medium to be struck? There has to be a way, like I’ve heard they do in Germany, to reduce the plot size any one builder can develop. Inject some more individually and personality into buildings? Aren’t people bored of reproduction mid 19th century brick houses, except built badly, to the same boring layout as everyone else?! It was so wonderful to come into this tiny house and not know what shape it would be on the inside. Not to mention the hidden ninja motives hidden around the place!