29th October, 2006 - After a quick walk around Tō-ji, T-chan and I met up again to have closer look at Kyōto Station. It's strange that such a focal point of travel in and around Kyōto can often be overlooked. It's not as if Kyōto Station is exactly non-descript. It stands out like a sore thumb - in a good way (of course). It's a massive building, occupying 238,000 m2, and is some 470 m long and about 70 m high. That's one very large train station. Built in 1997, it is a sign of the modern in an otherwise traditionalist town. If you come to Kyōto, you will invariably come here at some point.
You can find a very nice view from the very top of the station. A wide expansive view of modern Kyōto - now burdened with concrete and steel, all competing with glass to block out the sky. It is a city undergoing growing pains. And yet for all this post-WWII urbanisation, there remains a touch of magic. A small bamboo forest can be found on the top floor. A lone solitary reminder of the beauty of nature that surrounds the city.
The building houses 11 floors of restaurants, department stores, cinema, hotels, clothing stores, convenience stores, post office, tour operators - even a Mister Donuts- and if you're in need of guidance, there's a foreign tourist help centre (8th floor). My only question is - why put the tourist help centre near the top of the building. Because we'd done a lot of research on what we wanted to see, we didn't find the help centre that helpful.... but it's worth popping into see what's happening around the time you go.
Christmas in October in Japan... just in case you wondered what it would look like...
The open-air atrium-like structure is an interesting architectural feature - that can also double as a half-decent amphitheatre. You have the choice of escalator or stairs... As a theatre, I'd recommend sitting on the stairs. Also, don't expect to find too many bins here. Not sure if this is all a post-terrorism thing, or a cost-cutting thing... it is an annoying thing however.
It's a long way down to the bottom... and if you're like me and heights aren't your strong-point, you might be thinking that architecture is for those that don't struggle with... er... don't struggle with.... um... ok... I'm unlikely to get work here cleaning all of these windows.
And near the station stands another of the
Whilst the day started out strange with T-chan getting jiggy with the toilet bowl (morning sickness), we ended up having a very relaxing day walking around the shops and stores. It's not exactly Ginza or even downtown Sapporo for that matter... but it's good place to spend down time... and to find a quiet forest somewhere.