The day before, as we were riding the tour bus through downtown Kyoto, Jennifer's shopping radar suddenly went into high alert. Outside the bus windows we could see all sorts of department stores. Once we returned to the hotel, we got directions to the downtown district. Since we were on a pretty strict budget, we decided to take the city bus since it would only be a couple of hundred yen each. It turned out to be pretty easy. There were so many people who were willing to help us out and point us in the right direction.

This was the building we saw out the bus window the day before. As it happened, our bus dropped us off right across the street from it. A funny thing, as we were riding the bus, Jen was real concerned that we were going to the right place and that we didn't miss our stop. She struck up a conversation with a couple of teenage girls also on the bus to find out. The bus stopped suddenly and then immediately left again before we could react. The girls thought that should be our stop and Jen was distraught. Then the girls realized we should actually get off at the next stop so they waved at Jennifer and said "heiki, heiki" and then in a slow voice "Don't worry". Heh, it was so cute.

On the mouse over picture is a karaoke parlor, a really popular pastime in Japan. You can get individual studios for you and your friends and wail away in private.

Many of the shops open right on to the sidewalk in the same manner as this little clothing store. Jennifer checked out a few items but found the prices really high.

While Jennifer shopped, I wandered up and down the city streets. It was lightly raining, but fortunately the entire walkway in front of the various stores and shops was covered.

There were also numerous game rooms along the street. Imagine my joy when I saw all the different UFO catcher doll machines. Then my hopes for snagging cool anime dolls was dashed when I discovered that almost every machine was loaded with Disney toys. The few that weren't had only these cheap, generic looking dolls. 

Another really popular pastime was Pachinko. Pachinko is played like a vertical pinball game. You shoot a small ball up into the playing area and then it bounces down through a series of pins. Most balls just fall through the bottom, but a few fall into special pockets that earn the player more balls that can be turned in for cash or prizes. The sound is deafening. Not only from the thousands of balls falling down the pins, but from the ear-splitting music as well. In Kyoto alone, I counted dozens of Pachinko parlors and each of them was huge with hundreds of players.

When we returned from shopping, we caught the same bus figuring that it would return to Kyoto station. It did, but not before circling the entire city. It took us over an hour to get back. Next time we'll find a bus going in the opposite direction.

After getting off the bus, across from the station, we saw the Kyoto Tower.

Inside a small mall that was part of the station, we ate at a little French restaurant called Amici around 8:30 PM.

As we headed back to our hotel, we came across this small band playing just outside the station doors.