We had to get to Tokyo station by 7am. The train ride from Kasukabe to Tokyo station takes about one and a half hours so the wake-up call (naoki putting an alarm next to my head) came at 5 am.

Once at Tokyo station, we waited for the uncle and cousin #2 (Daisuke) to arrive. We waited 5 minutes... 10 minutes... 20 minutes... By this time, Nao and I were getting a little worried and Nao had the bright idea to give them a ring. It turns out we were waiting at the wrong Shinkansen check-in! No harm done, we still had 15 minutes left.

I sat next to the uncle on the train. We talked a bit about Kyoto and the world for a while. Later, I slept a bit (making up for lost time...) while listening to some music. An hour later or so, i was awoken by Nao.

"Mt. Fuji! Over there!"

I looked out the window and there it was, just like in the pictures. We were really lucky because there were no clouds around so we had a great view. Unfortunately, at 280km/h the Shinkansen didn't leave us a lot of time to admire the dormant volcano half covered in snow and we disappeared inside a tunnel 20 seconds later.

When i woke again, we were approaching Kyoto station. Once out the train we went to get a daily public transport pass, proceeded to the bus terminal and took a bus to Shinkaku-ji, The golden pavilion - our first stop.

It's really amazing. The whole building is made out of gold! The pavilion is located on the other side of a small lake when you enter the temple grounds. We spend around 20 minutes taking picture after picture. I also bought a happiness charm... You can never have enough luck huh?

Next stop, or 'target' as the uncle would put it, was Ryoan-ji, the temple renown for their rock garden.

We ate Souba in a small restaurant across the street from Ninna-ji. Souba is a noodle soup with all kinds of different meat, vegetables or seafood available as toppings. I had mine with fried chicken. The soup tasted great, the only problem being that it was so hot my tastebuds got fried after the first mouthful. Also the steam from the sauce made me choke. But it was good nevertheless.

After lunch we took the bus to Nijo Castle, one of the biggest and most impressive castles i have ever seen. The castle grounds cover about 250,000 square meters in central Kyoto. First, we went into the Ninomaru Palace - the main palace inside the castle walls where the Shogun lived and worked. The whole palace is made out of Tatami rooms and is one storey high. After the palace, we wandered around the grounds for a bit, walking from one end to the other and back.

We visited temple after temple for the rest of the day before we went back to Kyoto station in the evening. Naoki and me both bought some souvenirs and got some dinner (sushi for me) and then went to wait for our sinkansen to arrive.

Whilst waiting for the train, there was a Shinkansen to Tokyo every 10 minutes! And all of them full! That's a lot of people taking the train. Public transport is obviously a lot more efficient and popular in Japan than in Australia.

We got home by 11 pm - it had been a long yet fun and interesting day.