After a day frenetically working out next steps (apply in Hong Kong, go to Chinese embassy in Tokyo, send passport Fedex to Ireland!) I decided to get all my documents together and apply in the Osaka consulate. There were mixed reports online whether they would accept applications from 3rd country nationals but it was worth a try.
First thing the next morning I was there in line – to my great relief the woman behind the counter seemed unphased by the application and told me to come back tomorrow. Yes!
And with that I was off to Kyoto for the day. I’ve been to the city 3 times before but mostly with different people to the main sights so I rented a nifty little bicycle by the main station and headed off to see the lesser temples and gardens.
Although in autumn the leaves were just on the turn and thus the seasonal mobs of visitors had not yet descended. I had the temples and gardens completely to myself which was very serene experience – in total contrast to the last couple of days!
It seems like around every turn in Kyoto is something photo worthy and picturesque
One of the nights in Kyoto I decided to try something completely new accommodation-wise. Despite spending 8 months in Tokyo I had never stayed in a capsule hotel. These are a Japanese solution to a Japanese problem of space management. Although the capsule is small enough it is private and allows the hotels to be very central and offer lots of amenities in the common area.
I decided to check out a well-rated one I had read about years before called ‘9 hours’. The whole experience is stripped down to the essentials and indeed there are only four colours used in the entire building.
There are different floors for men and women served by separate lifts.
Also separate are the floors for showers and lockers. You put your shoes in a locker by reception and head up to put larger items in the big locker where toiletries and a set of PJs are provided.
Then to the sleeping floors. These look like something from a sci-fi film with two rows with pod-upon-pod of sleeping capsules. Once inside you can pull down a blind for privacy.
They also had an ‘ambient-light’ system to wake you up with a simulated sunrise – presumably to stop people setting loud alarms and waking up all their neighbours!
The next morning I made the short hop to Osaka to collect my passport which thankfully now had a (valid) visa issued. Phew!