Today was a shopping day for the students. It was the day before we were going home, and the last chance for them to pick up any gifts or souvenirs to take home. We set out walking for the closest train station to Kyoto Gakuen. Our path took us through Myoushin-ji temple grounds.
Once we wound our way through the large temple grounds we were walking through residential neighborhoods.
We all met up at the Hanazono Train Station and purchased our tickets for the trip to Kyoto Station.
The train was pretty crowded this morning (as it probably is every morning). It was a scenic ride on the train that went through many different neighborhoods. This was a view we normally did not see walking down the streets of Kyoto.
Not surprisingly, as soon as we got off the train most everyone headed for Bic Camera, the large electronics store at Kyoto Station that was almost urban legend among the students. This place is seven floors of electronics nirvana. My son Corey had gone the night before on his way to his host family and bought a Japanese PSP handheld game system (yellow). I was now on a mission to acquire a red one for myself. They have many different PSP colors in Japan that are not available in the United States. When we arrive this sign greeted us:
As you can see, most of the waiting students that were with us gathered around a PS3 on display in front of the store playing the latest Final Fantasy game (that was of course not out in the States yet).
When the bell sounded and the store opened, we were surprise to see the clerks lined up on the first floor by the escalators bowing and welcoming everyone into the store.
Of course all the really good stuff that we were all after was all the way on the top floor. It was a race up the escalators to the top floor to see who could find their purchases first. After all, we only had a few hours scheduled here at Kyoto Station and we did not want to spend it all in one store.
Even Mr. Cornwell was getting in on the electronics goodness at Bic.
One of the interesting things we saw in Bic was that all of the books and magazines had string tied around then in different ways to prevent you from reading them in the store.
After Bic Camera everyone pretty much split up and headed out to specific shops that they were interested in around Kyoto Station. We headed for the top of Kyoto Station to see the view from up there.
We had never seen so many stairs and escalators to get to the top of anything before. And these looked like they could handle quite a large capacity of shoppers.
One of the first things we saw when we reached the top was a bullet train getting ready to pull out of the station. I had looked into what a ticket to Tokyo would cost for Sunday (my one day I did not spend with the students). It was more expensive to take the bullet train to Tokyo than it would be to fly, about $135 US each way! But it would make the trip in about two hours (roughly the distance between San Francisco and Los Angeles).
I was surprised to find this sign up there on top of Kyoto Station in front of a really nice little park setting:
It’s always interesting to see ancient and modern architecture side by side in Downtown Kyoto.
We would run into other students all over the Station. Here’s a group that were having lunch at Subway Sandwich, yes another US franchise in Japan. They did have some odd sandwiches on the board.
The group I was with opted for something a little more traditional Japanese.
Here’s something interesting that you saw all over Japan in any public restroom, toilet paper vending machines.
It cost you a bit more than a buck US to buy a small package of folded toilet paper. We had one girl on the trip that became fascinated by the toilets in Japan. Anywhere that we went she had to check out the bathrooms. There are a wide variety of toilets in Japan, some that are not so user friendly with others that are computer controlled.
After lunch we had to backtrack our path and take the train back to the school. We had a going away party to attend. Here’s a shot of my shoes at the entry to the school’s main offices. Shoes get left on the street side of the wood planks. Teachers and students have lockers in the hallway to store their shoes and belongings.
While many of us were a little homesick, this was a bittersweet event. We had to leave our friends and return home to Modesto. It would be three months until they travelled to Modesto to attend Summer School for three weeks. Students were milling around outside starting to say their goodbyes.