Sticking with Anne’s for yet another week I made the arrangements to get to Kyoto. There was an overnight bus I’d be taking for around a tenth of the price of the train tickets. I was actually looking forward to it; I’ve never been on a night bus so the experience would be something fresh and unique.
Able to take a breath, it was finally time to see the Imperial Palace. Just a quick jaunt down the road, I came across the more business section of the city. Tall buildings soared over head, their windows reflecting warm sunlight down to the city streets. Across the moat and through the gate rested the innards of the outer courtyard. Perfectly cut cubes of stone were stacked high, making the walls nearly thrice my height. They lined the wide roads and led me on a tour through the grounds. Patches of garden still bore fruit. Old structures that once housed nobles and warriors alike stood proud. With shoes off, I entered one. Tiny windows peered down and across the moat; a perfect position for feudal archers.
Passing one of the last standing towers I ventured deeper in. The keep itself was long gone, but that only let my imagination wander to the wonder that used to stand where I stood. Another section of garden was starting to grow green as spring made its presence known. An elegant bridge arched over a large pond, filled with dozens of speckled orange and white coy. I sat and enjoyed the quiet wind and trickle of a waterfall. The modern city was still able to be seen over the feudal walls.
Now nearing the end of my five weeks in Tokyo, I headed back to Akihabara for the final time. It was night, so I could finally take in the splendor of the districts light show. Neon signs and massive screens lit up the main square like it was day and the crowd was just as busy; maybe even more so. Seeing the familiar shops and finally choosing the souvenirs I’d take home, there was one more thing I needed to do.
Located down one of the little side streets and on the fourth floor, I found one of the restaurants. Nervously, I went in and was met with much more than I expected. The place was small and with a few other guests (some local, some foreigners) Six or seven girls were dolled up in their maid outfits, sat me down and took me through their menu. Choosing a safe option, but still something new, I ordered omurice (rice in an egg omelet) The wait wasn’t long, but food wasn’t the only thing I was looking to experience. The head girl jumped on stage and with some disco laser lights flashing danced and sang karaoke. A second maid joined in with tambourine accompaniment and a third danced crazily with a pair of glow stick. Their show made me smile and shake my head at the same time. The trio performed twice, colorful shots were passed around and when my meal was brought to me, my servers decorated it with a smiling cat of ketchup. The meal was great by the way.
With a great time the night before, the only thing left to do was sit and wait. I wrote all day in the comfort of Anne’s and after bidding farewell to the staff and the bed I’d called my own for three weeks, I headed off. The night bus was leaving at 22:30 but wouldn’t be at Kyoto for nearly eight hours. Walking around the nearby shops for a while and spying some fugu in their tanks, I figured I’d pick up some snacks for the long ride. I checked in with the driver, threw my bag in the undercarriage, found my seat, connected to the bus’s wifi and got comfortable. There were around twelve people on board, all completely silent to one another. They gave me a blanket but I knew I wouldn’t be able to sleep, so I streamed the entire ride.
We made it to our destination just after sunrise, or what should have been sunrise. When I reclaimed my pack, the sky was grey and starting to rain. The roads were bare and the sidewalks even more so. My jacket was waterproof and my destination wasn’t too far off. Unfortunately it wouldn’t be open for three hours and I was already exhausted.