Japan holiday – day 3 – the day of FAIL

On every holiday there is one day where it all goes pear shaped, for us that day was today.

It started off well, a bit drizzly but nothing to be bothered by. We set off to the subway to go to Ginza. Of the many shopping districts in Tokyo, Ginza is one of the more upmarket ones and filled with huge department stores and massive multi story luxury brand stores.

The station itself is underneath one of Tokyo’s oldest department stores and I really enjoyed seeing the designer kimono’s and the amazing homewares section.

Out on the street we picked up some clear plastic umbrellas. These are everywhere in Japan and only cost 300yen (about $3.50ish Australian).

Another department store and I was reduced to tears in the pet department. All the animals had gone past that first puppy/kitten stage and were getting on for full grown. They were huge in their tiny cages and most didn’t even raise their heads when I came past. So sad for the little creatures.

In Ginza I was trying to hunt down Ito-ya a 5 or 6 storey stationary store that I’d read about before coming. After a few wrong turns we found it and was super fun looking at all the lovely stationary.

On the main streets the roads had been blocked off to allow pedestrians to wander all over the roads. Even in the rain it was pretty cool to see everyone just taking over the streets.

We were getting hungry and this is where the FAIL really gets started. A few wrong turns, a bit of rain that’s no problem but we literally spent the next 5 and a half hours (possibly even more) looking for some vegetarian food for me. Street after street, place after place and it was all meat. For a country that is known to eat a huge amount of soy I saw less tofu during my entire trip that I would see walking down any big food street in Australia.

After a few hours of trudging we thought we’d found a place only to discover they were closed. They gave us a card with a map of places in the area that also had some vegetarian food, but back out on the street we realised while the map showed the businesses it didn’t name any of the streets or even have North marked on it. It was impossible to navigate by. A kind Japanese lady stopped to help us and gave us directions to where she thought it was but we couldn’t find it.

Giving up entirely we jumped a train and headed to Harajuku. There I caved and had food from a TGI Friday, certainly not somewhere I’d normally eat but I was just needing some food.

I’d read about a great green tea shop in the area and we thought a nice cup of tea would be a lovely way to kick start our day. How wrong we were, it just led to more hours wandering as I’d either marked it incorrectly on the map or it had moved from when I had read the article (there was a new shopping centre where it was meant to be). In an effort to get out of the rain a bit we ducked into the shopping centre and found a cool Bianchi bike store complete with a totally pimped out mini velo.

From Harajuku we walked back to Shibuya where I spotted this AquaGirl* store (Nicole you really are everywhere aren’t you?) which was pretty funny.

Using the Apple store in Shibuya for free internet we looked up some more vegetarian places nearby. After walking to a few of them we discovered they were either closed or not there anymore. Looks like food was just going to be a right pain all day today.

I finally decided to check out what was in these ball like things we kept seeing everyone line up to eat. They were some kind of egg/pancake type mixture with something else in them judging by the way they looked while cooking. they started off with a mixture poured into a tray and by the end of the cooking process they had been turned into a neat little ball about golf ball size. We grabbed some and scuttled undercover at the train station to try them. The Englishman took a bite into his and started to eat, a bit hot for me I bit into mine and was letting the steam out before I took another bite. Part way through his first bite The Englishman** stopped chewing and pulled an octopus tentacle from his mouth. Yep definitely not vegetarian. The discovery of suckers pretty much put an end to the searching in the rain so it was back on a train to the hotel with a stop at the 7-11 to get bento of soba, some onigiri and juice. Hardly an epic feast but it was food and it didn’t contain suckers.

*AquaGirl is the Twitter handle of a friend and it made me giggle to see it as the name of stores in Japan

** as tired and hungry as I was, it must be mentioned that The Englishman never once complained about my not wanting to eat meat and once someone has eaten octopus suckers for you, you know just how much they will do to make sure you are looked after.

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