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March 21, 2012

I found it hard to sleep last night despite feeling [and looking like] a zombie [do zombies sleep?].  After waiting at LAX for 4 hours, traveling across the Pacific Ocean on a 12 hour flight, riding the Narita Express for 53 minutes, walking confusedly around Tokyo station for 30 minutes, squeezing into a tiny cab for 10 minutes, and checking in at the hotel for about 5 minutes, plus many minutes in between all those other minutes, I think we went to bed at the equivalent of 6am PST.  Staying awake for 24 hours hurts my eyes and makes my head unstable, bobbling around like my spine is slack. The hotel is big by Japan's standards, which means that Tim doesn't quite hit both walls when he spreads his wings.

Besides having a toilet bowl from the future with seat warmers and an array of electronic buttons, our hotel is perfectly located next to one of the most popular running spots in Tokyo: a 5k loop around the Imperial Palace.  Although there were quite a few people on the course, I only saw two other women when I went running in the morning.  All the men are very fashionable, decked out in track suits, but they also shuffle [heavy feet] even when they are moving fast.  I had a great run in the freezing cold, clearly though, I was obnoxiously out of sync with my fellow runners. 

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Tim and I walked to Shinjuka Gyoen, the first destination on my long list of things to do specifically related to the sensational Cherry Blossom season.  We zig zagged through the city, wandering the streets of this big little foreign country.  Everything is big and everything is small; a lot of small pieces crammed into a very big city.  The side streets lack sidewalks and cars like to drive fast; Japanese businessmen are dressed in black or navy suits layered beneath a long black overcoat.  All of them.   
The gardens were beautiful even though we were there a little too early in the season to see peak cherry blossoms.  So. Everything was dead, even the grass was brittle and tan, but there was something about the golden glow of winter passing and spring starting, trees bending and paths winding, that made the few early blossoms impressively stoic.

After the gardens, we hunted for lunch and found Pure, a vegan cafe connected to an Aveda Salon.  Yes, everything smelled delicious, everywhere.  I got a soup, salad, and sandwich AND a sake muffin. Yum. 

We then walked through the shopping district to the Meiji shrine. This is about the time I started going downhill, not literally, although it might have been easier than walking up the hill to the shrine. My foot was hurting, bummer, so we took the subway back to the hotel. Under the guise of letting my foot rest, I lay down on the bed and promptly fell asleep. After all, it was 4am ... 

A few minutes later Tim, without concern for my sleepiness, asked me a few questions about dinner. Apparently I didn't answer them well, as in, not at all. 

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Our dinner destination was off the Shibuya stop, which is the busiest intersection in Japan, which means it might just be the craziest place in the world.  We wandered.  And stopped.  And wandered.  Tim kept pointing to our destination on the map, a vegan restaurant called Nagi Shokudo, which was sadly located about 1/2" south of the map's edge.  I don't know how we found it, but we did, something about a red fire engine hydrant post office? The food was okay, basil potatoes, yam and tofu, fake meat and peppers.  It was more like a cafe than a proper restaurant, small, with books and music for sale.  The kid at the table next to us was clearly into music, carefully opening several records he must have just purchased.  In no time and with a little broken English, Tim was outed as that guy from Dangers. It was funny to hear them talk about music since the language barrier is pretty severe, it was mostly band names and gestures.  And just like that, Tim made a friend!

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Convenient stores are a huge deal here: 7-11, Lawson, FamilyMart, Circle K, and many others.  There are multiple shops on every block, it is completely excessive but definitely convenient.  I ate Oreos; Tim had a highball in a can with pictures of cherry blossoms on it.