On the 12th, V and I went down to Tokyo. The train to Kyoto was leaving early in the morning on the 13th and either we went down the day before and stayed somewhere in Tokyo, or we took a shinkansen from Utsunomiya...catching a train from Kanuma around 5:30 AM. So we went down the day before. That night we stayed in a capsule hotel (one in Asakusa, right next to the station, that takes women). I definitly recommend the Riverside Capsule Hotel, though you'd have to get there early to make sure there was space (not a problem for men, I'd expect).. It was nice, though a bit noisy since there was no curfew and women were coming and going all night. Still, there was more space in the capsules than I thought there would be (interior picture here ) and it was pretty comfortable. A big plus was it's proximity to the subway in the morning.
After we'd checked into the Riverside and dropped off our baggage, we went and did a bit of exploring around Tokyo. We made stops in Akihabara, Tokyo and Shibuya
We got to Tokyo station way too early the next morning, but at least that meant that there was no way we'd miss our train! All went well and relatively soon we were on our way out of Tokyo and the Kanto area in some of the most comfortable seats I've had the pleasure to ride in here (it was my first shinkansen trip too!).
Next - Culture capitol and tourist traps.