Where were we? Leaving Nara. Leaving Nara on a bullet train.
After enjoying the turtle pond, we took the Kintetsu rail line to Kyoto Station, bought two tickets for a super express Nozomi train to Tokyo, and were on our way.
A friend on Twitter asked for some pictures and video of the experience for her son, who is a big train fan. I was more than happy to help:
There was a rather good looking conductor at Kyoto Station.
I took video of a bullet train (not ours, obviously) leaving Kyoto Station.
Our supercool train approaches the platform to whisk us away to the future.
One of the nicest things about traveling in Japan is that refreshment is never far away. We settled into our spacious seats with the snacks I bought on the station platform...
and watched the Japanese countryside warp by at 165 miles an hour.
We spent a little over two hours on that train, and I loved every minute. Except the minute when I had to wake the guy in the aisle seat so I could use the bathroom and then clumsily tripped over his briefcase on my way out. I didn't love that minute very much at all.
But other than that, it was great. I wished I could immediately ride the shinkansen back to Kyoto and then to Tokyo again.
Instead we checked into a nice hotel with an even nicer view.
I'd wanted to cram some more Tokyo fun into our last night, but the cold I'd been ignoring for three days would no longer be denied. We ate dinner at a nondescript restaurant close by, and I planted my aching head on a pile of fluffy pillows and looked out the window, thinking about everything we'd seen in the past few weeks and resting in anticipation of the long trip back to Austin.
Oh, we also used the fancy remote-control toilet in our hotel kind of a lot. I finally figured out the massage feature, and it's just...well, never mind. Although the toilet did make a lot of beeping noises, which made the experience slightly less soothing.*
Not all toilets in Japan** are that fancy. In public restrooms, it's a crapshoot: will you get a basic Western toilet? Or the slightly fancier version of the Toto Washlet, with a washing nozzle and a speaker that emits a musical flushing sound to mask your noises?
Or will you open the stall door to find nothing but a pole and a hole, and, if you're lucky, a roll of toilet paper?
Apparently some people have problems figuring those out. In case you were wondering, I had no such confusion and got the hang of them pretty quickly. (There was a lot of beer around for the cherry blossom festivities, so I had ample opportunity to practice.)
That's about all I have to say about toilets, and that also pretty much brings us to the end of our trip to Japan.
In closing, here is a picture of a cherry tree losing its blossoms on the grounds of Sanjusangendo in Kyoto. I can scarcely believe we were anywhere so far away and so beautiful just a couple of weeks ago.
*I almost forgot. You should never play around with the air drying function until you are completely done with your business. Trust me. No reason!
**Sometimes I really love Wikipedia.