A pleasant goodbye to Kanazawa and an easy train to Kyoto, but it was 2pm by the time we sorted out our hotel (which is excellent) and the day was looking like a bit of a bust. Fortunately a couple of stations up the Sagano line is Nijo, where there is a still-intact 400 year old castle used by the Tokugawa shoguns and then the first Meiji emperor – we were able to walk the "nightingale passages" around the entire castle and look in on the stunning interior rooms with their original decorations. The huge cedar floor slabs are built to chirp musically when walked on, so you couldn’t sneak through the corridors and surprise the shogun. And it still works four centuries later. The interior was incredible, every detail crafted to perfection. The gardens behind the gargantuan stone walls were simple and beautiful. A really special place to visit despite the crowds of a Sunday afternoon.

We had eaten late so after a bit of a rest in the hotel we headed down toward the station about 8 and finally hit the food jackpot, a busy teppanyaki grill which made pizza-topped potato slices for the girls, and a range of Kyoto specialties for Mem and I. The staff were laidback and friendly and beamed at my hilariously bad Japanese, the food was divine and the local beer was very tasty. The girls loved watching the teppanyaki chefs doing their stuff as well. So it turned out to be a great day. 4 nights in Kyoto and thus far we love it.

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