Konichiwa: A Vegan & A Veteran

Konichiwa! We wrapped up the first international leg of our trip - Japan - and it was INTENSE! First, I'll say that we did "All the things" that one would want to do while visiting and we did them all in 2 weeks. From Temples, Imperial Palace, to Robot Restaurants to Mt Fuji... We really did get a lot in.

But consequently we are SPENT on city life, in more ways than one. It was a lot of fun, but also a lot of stress and a LOT of money. For someone who's lived in Manhattan, I can honestly say Tokyo is absurdly more expensive of a city to be in. $20-40/person per meal. Easy. And the trains do not (to my understanding) have an "unlimited" option like the MTA in NYC does, so we ended up spending several hundred dollars just on the metro... Not to mention the two overnight buses we took to and from Kyoto that were the "least expensive option" but really, still expensive when you're trying to travel on a budget.

With all that said, apparently there is a special rail pass (JR RAIL) that is significantly discounted but it is only for tourists and it can ONLY be obtained BEFORE YOU ARRIVE IN JAPAN. {palm to forehead}. So if you're planning a trip, seriously do yourself a favor and just spend the money on the tourist pass. It is way worth it if you're planning on traveling around the city a lot, if you want to take the bullet train at all (otherwise a 1 way bullet train is around $180/person), and if you really don't feel like loading and reloading your pass every other day like we did.

I don't mean to rant so much, but I have to address the major issue that I had -- FINDING VEGAN FOOD! I really didn't think I would have that much trouble considering when I'm in the US, "Japanese food" is on my list of out-to-eat options because... Well sushi, duh! Right? Sadly, it did work out so well. Honestly we saw way more ramen/udon/noodle places than we did sushi. And mostly the sushi you could find was sashimi or the individual sushi pieces. Where's my sweet potato roll? Avocado/cucumber? Bueller? So sad.. But then you'd also think that I could have the noodles? Sadly, no. Unless you're at an all-around vegan restaurant, all the broth for the ramen is made with pork or fish stock. Even if the menu calls it "vegetarian ramen," it is very unlikely to be the case. Sorry, but I had to be real with you guys. It was not an easy city to be vegan in. Rant over.

So with that said, grocery shopping became my main source of food, next to venturing out to the various vegan restaurants that we did find. The Google Translate app became my best friend because I could take a picture of the package/ingredients, highlight the Japanese text with my finger, and it would tell me what it said. Praise God! So needless to say, I worked that grocery store like a local by the time we left.