I’m in Kyoto for a meeting with my Pacific Rim Growth Cycle. The city is slightly over a million people, but quite charming. You can drive along narrow roads bordering a small river, with walkways spanning the water (no hand rails whatsoever). Along the streets are scores of wonderful restaurants, serving traditional Japanese meals in traditional manner, some with Michelin stars.
Uber has been unsuccessful here because the cabs are spotless, the drivers wear suits and ties and gloves, and they open doors for you. They speak more English than many New York cab drivers and, amazingly, they actually know where everything is! The typical ride is about $11 US.
There is a serenity in what is often seen as the crowded urbanity of the Japanese. Everything—including train platforms—are cleaned frequently, and aesthetics prevail in design and accommodations The trains run smack on time, with your tickets controlling entrance and egress to the stations—no conductor checks your ticket. And the trains run at about 250 MPH. A local colleague told me that if a train is more than a few minutes late it’s a newsworthy story! The US Acela, which only occasionally can hit 150 MPH, sometimes has the first class car in the rear, sometimes in the front, you have to ask so that you’re not at the wrong end of the platform. The Japanese put the first class car……in the middle!
Travel is enriching and valuable. I’ve been to Japan several times, always in Tokyo and twice in Hakone, but Kyoto has made a huge, favorable impression on me.