Thursday, February 9, 2017

Kyoto Station: Cat Posters and Lego Models

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We arrived and departed from Kyoto at the Kyoto Station, which serves both trains and subways; it is topped by a massive 10-story building with shopping and restaurants.  We already liked the Station for the series of posters of cats dressed traditional Japanese garb.  Then we saw the Lego model of the station:
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The model is 1:100 scale, and according to the placard, is built from 301,584 blocks, and is 4.8m (15’ 9”) long, 1m (3’ 3”) tall, and .7m (2’ 4”) wide.  It was amazingly accurate, including the interior courtyard, with 10-story open air staircase, suspended pedestrian bridge, and the park on the rooftop.

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As we explored the station, we saw more of the cat posters.  Some included directions to a portion of the station (different subway lines, ticket offices, etc.).  They appear to be sponsored by NHK, which is the national broadcasting service in Japan.

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Not all of them included directional arrows; the cat above appears to be advocating for a calm attitude (that’s always what we adopt, when confronted by someone swinging a sword), based on Google’s sketchy translation, while the one below says “Sai Line is this way.”

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This cat  urges you to have a good ride (we think).  Although we didn’t stop to translate these posters at the time, there was no need, as there were color coded arrows on the floor directing you to various lines, which also included English and Japanese text, if you didn’t know the color of the line you wanted.  It was an extremely user-friendly subway system. Speaking of user friendly, consider the ridged yellow tiles on the far left:
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Those ridged tiles are something we saw all over Japan, indoors and out.  It’s a tactile navigation tile to assist people with vision impairments.  Uninterrupted (though not always straight) sections have ridges in the direction of travel.  Intersections of paths were denoted by a grid of dots, and there would be a series of ridges perpendicular to travel to alert you to doorways, street crossings, and other changes from a flat path.  Quite a neat system, and we regularly saw people using walking sticks on them to read the path.
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The Kyoto Station was a great first impression for the city.  We had a lot more exploration to do in Kyoto, and we'd also be returning to the station for one of the best meals of our trip.