I decide to start my first day in Tokyo in the Asakusa district. I have no money so the first thing I do is find the post office which has an international ATM. Then I head toward a shrine. I see a Starbucks, and though I loathe to go inside, I want something familiar and to suppress my appetite. I have no idea when and where I'll be able to eat. Being vegan is pretty hard here, and I just don't have the patience to ask around at cafes, so I stick with Happy Cow and the Tokyo Vegan Pocket Guide that both my couch surf hosts own. A nice guy from Miami is there and we chat for a few minutes about the cool areas of town. He's been here for a week and is on his way to China.
The shine is cool and it's the first time I see lots of tourists. Most of them are actually Asian. I walk down the small street of shops, tempted to buy stuff, knowing full well that my backpack is overcapacity and no room is available. Consuming energy is at an all time high here. The Japanese love to shop. I don't see how they can afford to shop so much but every district I go to is full of shops and tons of people going in and out. And everyone is fashionable and dressed up. Even though they have to walk miles and it's 90 degrees, everyone is dolled up with layers and fancy shoes. It's like New York city on speed.
This is a real city more so than I've ever seen. Every square foot is packed in with stores, restaurants, and buildings. The energy here is so heavy, people work very hard and no one smiles. I feel the energy weighing down on me. I'm usually bursting with energy, but as I walk around town I have to take breaks to just sit and relax.
So back to my day in the rain. After Asakusa I try to find a vegetarian Indian place called Nataraj in Ginza area. They have a buffet for 1100yen ($13) and even though that is a little steep for lunch I'm happy to find vegan food. Trying to find a cafe is like finding a needle in a haystack here. The address and street system is jacked. Finding a place to eat usually takes a least an hour and asking 3 or 4 people who don't speak English well. I ask the boys at Abercrombie and Fitch (who are some of the most beautiful Japanese guys I've seen!) and they tell me the wrong direction. I finally make it after wandering around and relax in the a/c away from the rain. The food is decent and I have the whole place to myself.
After lunch I head to a garden that Alisa says is lovely with a tea shop. By this time it's pouring down rain and the small umbrella she let's me borrow is worthless. I'm soaked and my shoes squish squish with every step. There's no way I can enjoy the gardens in this weather so I walk around the Shiodome area. It has huge glass buildings with cool architecture and many buildings have art installations in the lobby. I duck into a building with a Tully's coffee shop to escape the rain, because I'm nearly in tears at this point. What a disastrous day. I sit there for about 20 minutes, and the security guard paces in front of me, but leaves me alone.
I decide to search for this macrobiotic cafe that I read about called Marche'. I have so much time to kill before I meet Alisa for dinner so I just need a place to hangout and dry off. I finally find it with the help of the 7-11 clerk and relax in the corner with a tiramisu and bancha tea. After being in the rain all day a nice treat was just what I needed! They have a lot of veggie magazines that I can't read but are so pretty to look at. I love the graphic design of Japanese magazines. I also get some great ideas for my next book looking at the photos. I hang out here for a good hour and a half then start my way back to meet Alisa for dinner. It is now just a drizzle and a nice breeze is blowing.
I meet Alisa and we head to Cafe Eight, a fancy vegan cafe that I splurged on. The food was excellent. I was going to do a video review but I was too exhausted. I had the spring roll, a tempeh dish with brown rice, and I treat myself to a sake liquor that is sweet and tart with lemon. I'm told by my next host, Julie, that tempeh is impossible to find here. There is one natural food store that has it but it is SO expensive. I'm very lucky because Julie makes her own tempeh and I get to have it the next night along with amazing raw food that she prepares.
I'm really hoping it's not raining anymore this week. The next day I'm off to my new hosts house and another exciting day of sight-seeing. Stay tuned!