Japan Day 21 - Shibuya, Tokyo

Fletch and I had been on the go for 20 days. 20 days of touring around Japan, of hopping between major cities, of riding bullet trains across the country. 20 days and so many different hotels that they were all starting to blur together. I went in trying to keep notes on each hotel's differences, for the purpose of writing a post of hotel advice for other travelers. But the truth is, in the $100 per night range, all business hotels are created pretty equally. They're all clean and neat and provide an almost-too-stiff bed. It is safe to shop by the square meterage. For $150 per night, there's usually a smart phone included and a few extra complimentary toiletries like facial products.

I’m not going to lie, I was feeling pretty darn satisfied with our trip exactly as it was. Even though we had barely scraped the surface of Tokyo, I felt like we had fulfilled everything we wanted to out of our trip. And so we were both very content to take a lazy day and just chill.

We eventually got hungry and ventured down the street in search of food. We didn’t have to look far, every other window displayed plastic replicas of every dish on the menu. We had an entire world of culinary creations to choose from, everything from heaping bowls of more traditional foods like ramen, to crazy creations like tempura fried American dogs (their word for corndogs) on top of an ice cream parfait. I’m not even making that last one up. The first sign of something resembling a salad lured us inside. Japanese cuisine, for all its perfection in every other area, is severely lacking in fresh, raw, produce. I was craving something green and crunchy like some sort of weird vegetable addict.

We were seated in a little private room off to the side, next to a window overlooking one of the main streets. There was a button to push to call our waiter over when we were ready to order. I was a fan of the restaurants with the buttons. It eliminated the need to have a server breathing down our necks, asking how everything was, the second we had food in our mouths. You know what I’m talking about. They actually don’t do that in Japan, because they’re not working for tips, but the button was still nice.

I ordered a big bowl of salad with avocados, tuna, salmon, and octopus, all served over a bed of rice, because that’s still as close to a salad as you can find in Japan. I didn’t care though. I was so happy for something green and fresh.

After lunch we walked across the street from our hotel to find the laundromat. Two little school boys in their uniforms were walking past us in the opposite direction, and one of them was making a joke while holding the corners of his eyes all squinty like we do to make fun of Asian eyes. Only he already had Asian eyes. Fletch and I both bent over double laughing. Our day was made. It was worth traveling to Japan just to see that happen.

The rest of the day was spent watching weird Japanese game shows on tv. We even recognized one of the celebrity guests. You know you’ve been in Japan too long when you start recognizing stars on TV.

We ventured all the way across the street to the nearest conbini for dinner (so far!) and I went on a green food binge, snatching up everything green I could find. Luckily, there were much better options for vegetable snacks here in the city than we had found from some of the other places we had been. If you are a weird vegetable addict like me and traveling to Japan, you may not want to plan too much time away from Tokyo. Most foods, while delicious, rely heavily on noodles, rice, and fish. Vegetables are usually small in proportion and pickled on the side for the aesthetic appeal. The diet is everything you ever wanted for the first week or so, but definitely leaves the body craving a few vitamins by the end of 20 days.

Edamame and Octopus Salad

Spicy Pickled Cucumbers