It would be disingenuous of me to portray Kyoto as a picture perfect movie set for Memoirs of A Geisha. Although at least parts of the movie were filmed here.
In fact much of Kyoto is a grey Cinderblock jungle with grimy air-conditioning units peppered like teenage acne all over the faces of the boxy buildings.
A tangle of criss-crossed electrical wiring creates a spiderweb ceiling over the streets wherever you go.
Kyoto rail station looks like a sci-fi space-port but the modernity lasts only a block before function takes over from form.
Still Kyoto is full of contrasts and there's no getting away from the austere beauty you inevitably stumble upon just by taking a turn up the right alley.
Our exit from the city is far more civilised than our entrance, no catastrophic fires to shut down the system- the Bullet Trains are running like clockwork again.
I pull my window shade down as I find the landscape, between Kyoto and Tokyo, depressing. Between the dense pre-fab housing and the sparse small scrubby trees, the views are pretty bleak. Besides I'm getting plenty more aesthetic appeal from a charming little Bento box we bought at the station.