Wednesday April 26

Stuff at the office is coming together and a friend is coming to visit tomorrow so now it's time to start planning a little time off.  We'd like to go to Kyoto, the historic capital of Japan.  The high-speed Shinkansen bullet train runs at least 6 times an hour from the main Tokyo station so I went out on a limb and took the Tokyo Metro Hibiya line to the Maranouchi line to Tokyo station to go to the Japan Rail (JR) ticket counter and try to buy 2 round-trip tickets for Saturday.  We're going to try to see enough in a single day so it'll be up early, on the train at 7, get in around 9:30, and we're on the 9PM train home.  That should get us back around 11:30, enough time to hop on the subway before it shuts down.  Gotta plan for that.  Speaking of that, does anyone know if other cities subway systems stay open 24 hours other than New York?  Talk amongst yourselves...   BTW the Metro has a cool site to find the best path between stations.  I linked the path directly above, but here's the link to the main site.  Neat.

Getting the tickets was going to be interesting.  Some locals told me to go to a travel agent, others said you could get tickets at the 7-11, which turned out to be partially true, in that they have a phone to JR but it's not for reserved tickets and you have to speak Japanese.  Daryl the local Australian system administrator tried his best but that turned out to be a dead end.  So off to Tokyo station I went.

My DK guide book said if you looked for the big ? sign that would get you to Customer Service where obviously-lost foreigners like myself can get a sympathetic ear and a form to fill out to help get the tickets.  Keiko turned out to be all that and then some, she provided me with the form, I filled it in, she wrote out extra in Japanese for the ticket clerk and 15 minutes later I was the proud owner of 2 round-trip "Green Car" first class tickets to Kyoto on Saturday.  Here's the form, a ticket and the credit card receipt.  Yes, security folks, they blanked out the CC number per Visa guidelines.
JR english form

After this success I went back to the hotel to do some more paperwork.  Stopped by the red soda machines you saw on an earlier page to pick up a Coke.  Now you can get the regular 12-ounce for 120Y or the special 150ml for the same 120Y.  Seems like a no-brainer:

Anyway that's it for now.  Gonna see if I can get some Swiss food for dinner.  Although Cup Noodle is good and I think I'm getting addicted, too much curry and Cup Noodle are not good.  Wienerschnitzel is much better for you...  See you soon!