Tokyo to Kyoto
The last morning in Tokyo was spent running around hunting down stores. It was cold and raining and I had forgotten the umbrella back at the hotel but my need to tick off a visit to the Moomin Cafe (especially when it was so close to our hotel) was too strong. The boys were meant to come with Jason and I to the Kit Kat Chocolatory but they decided to stay wrapped up in bed for a much needed sleep in. I on the other hand was determined not to let my morning go to waste. We noted down their Kit Kat wishes and headed out.
Because most stores and eateries don't open until 10am it made our schedule tight as check out was at 11am. Luckily for us the lovely staff at Hotel Niwa were happy to push back our check out time to 12.30pm. It took a while for us to find Moomin Cafe as we had originally thought it was within the actual Tokyo Dome. It was actually further up located on the second level just past Spa La Qua and a cool roller coaster that seemed to casually run through the rooftop of the nearby shopping centre.
Moomin Cafe is a gorgeous little bakery/cafe with freshly made treats you can eat on your commute to work or for a mid-morning snack. It's open from about 7.30 in the morning onwards. Just walk in, grab a tray and a pair of tongs and you're set. The cafe area has large trademarked Moomin characters sitting on seats at empty tables just waiting for you to join them. For the lonely and early risers, Moomin and his friends can provide you with the quiet company you need.
There is also a little gift and apparel area between the bakery and the cafe. The atmosphere is sweet and the pastries and breads they have on offer are delicious. You're also free to use their toasting machine in the dining area if you'd like to warm your breakfast up that little bit extra. I would also have to say that the hot coffee is so smooth and yummy and didn't leave my stomach feeling angry afterward. The coffee was as friendly to me as the staff were.
There were so many savoury and sweet delights to choose from that I blindly closed my eyes and made a random selection. I had a delicious cherry blossom bun, filled with cherry blossoms and what tasted a little like lotus paste with a blossom pressed into the top of it. Cherry blossoms have a distinct taste to them - sweet but a little bitter and to awkwardly put it, taste the way that they smell. Jason and I had ended up choosing the same one. I'll admit that I was a bit disappointed because it would have been great to try another of their pastries but still delicious nonetheless.
The pastry on my custard pocket was incredible. It was somehow a mixture of soft but crispy, flakey in the right places and had that little bit of a sugared crunch on the side. It may not have looked like much but I know my tastebuds are yearning for another bite and wishing I had the recipe for it.
After finishing our breakfast we headed towards the newly opened Kit Kat store which is located in the Seibu department store (post dedicated to Kit Kats soon) I really want to go back there because the Seibu department store is beautifully laid out and has so much to offer. Unfortunately we couldn't spend any more time there as it was getting close to check-out time and we still hadn't bought our Shinkansen (Bullet train) tickets to Kyoto. We bought the Shinkansen tickets to Kyoto at the Iidabashi Station near our hotel. Purchasing non smoking reserved seats, we hurried through the rain back to our hotel rooms to do a quick once-over and scuttled to the lobby to check-out.
Tokyo to Kyoto by Shinkansen takes about two and a half hours. It was quite foggy and so we couldn't see Mt Fuji but don't worry, we'll be back there and perhaps go climbing. The country side is beautiful and it's amazing to see such modern houses against the country landscape. There are of course more modest homes and cottages among the greenery but the country side and mountains are truly amazing.
A word of advice when boarding the shinkansen, there are special areas you can put your luggage bags and a coat rack so make use of them otherwise you'll end up getting squashed with your suitcase if the person in front of you decides they want a nap. Also take with you some pre-packed food if you're travelling just after lunch or at an awkward time. There is a food trolley service selling chips and other snacks but it's always good to try out as much of that delicious Japanese food as you can. Just visit any department store food floor and you'll find plenty of food you can take away.
Use the time you have on the bullet train to recuperate and maybe even nap, however do set an alarm to wake you up at least ten minutes before your expected stop. The bullet train doesn't inform you of your stops every few minutes, rather only informs you of your next stop when you're departing the station and the order of each stop. The voice over will let you know when you're approaching a specific stop right before it halts, but if you sleep through that you may find yourself bound further than you had intended to go. I myself was way too excited to nap and spent most of the time staring out the window (saw a Pokemon train whoosh by) and planning where to visit first once we got to Kyoto.