Today is day 1 (初日 - shonichi, also means "opening day") in Tokyo. Or maybe yesterday was shonichi. It depends on how you mark the days. After a 16 hour flight, I have lost much of my sense of time. We took off at 10am from Newark, landed at 3pm local Tokyo time and now it is 5:35 am. I have been up since 3:00 am, after falling asleep at 9:00 pm.
I feel like a child with a sugar high hangover. My sugar high was my first trip in business class. As an exclusively economy traveler, I could hardly force myself to sleep. The food, the sundaes (yes, ice cream sundaes), the extensive movie selection and all of the computer games (I played Battleship for at least an hour). My hangover is desynchronosis.
It doesn't help that my head is racing with fleeting thoughts, ideas, goals. Chief among them is the issue of food. I am a vegetarian and vividly recall from my first trip to Tokyo (three weeks in 2004) that being vegetarian was a challenge. I spent considerable time in the weeks leading up to my glorious business-class trip getting educated about the challenges and safe havens for vegetarians in Japan. Many people have written and blogged on the subject, so I will not presently attempt to add to that space. Instead, I will lean heavily on those who have explored before me as I get settled.
Here are a few of those resources (though I loathe to group vegetarianism with veganism):
On being vegan in Japan
On "vegetarian survival" in Japan
* Make sure to read the bio of the couple that runs this blog -- what a life!
On vegetarianism in Japan on "World Vegetarian Day"
* According to this 2005 post, "ham is considered a vegetable ". I hope the concept of vegetarian has evolved in the last 9 years!
For a skeptic's outlook on the subject, visit thisvegetarianlife.org. The internet voices largely concur: as far as traditional Japanese food goes, this won't be easy. The upside is that we are living in Azabu-juban (麻布十番), which is, according to other web voices, a relatively international neighborhood with a corresponding array of international cuisine. Here are a few places that I intend to try:
Eat More Greens - an all vegetarian restaurant
King Falafel - an Israeli-owned, kosher-certified falafel stand
Frijoles - a Mexican restaurant whose owner lived for 9 years in California, sounds promising
CNN has even weighed in on the topic (here). The article is from 2010, so we will see whether these 7 restaurants are still open. I will also have to figure out where they are. I currently have no concept of Tokyo's layout, at all.
Finally, it is nearing 7am. It is now appropriate for me to "wake up."