Going to Japan I had a few options on where to stay and since I was going alone I kinda wanted to go somewhere that I would be able to meet new people and maybe hang out with them. I knew that a hotel was out because I didn't want to be in that type of settling. So a co worker told me about the site Airbnb. He used it a few times when he traveled out of town and had positive experience so I decided to give it a try as well. There were a ton of places for me to choose from but after narrowing my selections down I settled on sharing a house verses staying by myself. When I saw this listing I fell in love. There is a beautiful rooftop that gave a view of the neighborhood, the kitchen was was totes cute and it even had a pink toilet!!! What really sold me on the listing was the host Lisa she is the nicest, warmest stranger I have ever met. Before I even booked she was happy to answer all of my questions and even give me advice before I got there. It was also a bonus that she was spoke English.
Along with giving me advice about the area and making sure I knew how to catch the train Lisa was nice enough to cook a few vegan meals for me so that I would not feel excluded from the nightly dinners. Along with Lisa there were 3 other guests in the house. Even with the large number it did not feel the least bit cramped. On my first full day in Japan Lisa made this wonderful rice salad. It was loaded with rice, lettuce, tomatoes, artichoke hearts, chickpeas, kidney beans, pine nuts, sunflower and sesame seeds. Sadly I did not get to enjoy it that night because I started to come down with something shortly after landing in Japan but lucky for me she made a huge salad and I was able to try it the next night and it was amazing. I will be making this at home. There were also a ton of dressing to choose from and lucky for me they were all vegan but I did have to get Lisa to tell me what was what.
On my second night in Japan the rest of the house had steaks and left over rice salad but again Lisa was nice enough to whip up so Chickpea Masala. My appetite was back so I got to eat dinner.
When I was gearing up for my trip I was making a list of things I wanted to do while in Japan and one of the things that was on the top of my list was go to a grocery store. Lame I know but I am one of those rare people that love going to the grocery store. On my walk to the train station I would pass this semi open air market and after my day in Kyoto I stopped by. Sadly It was close to closing so they were packing food up but I was able to grab a few things to make dinner. I loved the fact that this market actually packed up all the fresh fruits and veggies each night instead of letting them stay out. Also anything that pre-made or pre-cut went for 50% off after a certain time. That's how I was able to get sushi for 150 Yen. ( A buck fifty American dollars) That is unheard of!
For dinner I decided on a stir fry. The food is Japan is so much cheaper. I was able to get mushrooms for a buck, bean sprouts for 39 cents and wait for it tofu for 59 cents!! It is madness I tell you. The fried tofu over there is so much better than the crap I buy here, it really hurts my soul.
I loved the tofu so much that I went back to the market the next day and since I went a bit earlier I was able to walk around the market to see what they had to offer. Of course very few things were in English but I had my nifty I am vegan card with me so when I saw a product I wasn't sure about I asked for help. Sadly all the things I picked up had fish or milk in them. Never fear I brought more of my bargain tofu and since my fruit intake was a bit low I wanted to see what Japanese watermelon would taste like. FYI its tastes just like American watermelon. I was slightly disappointed.
I didn't do as much eating out as I thought I would in Japan but even without eating out I don't feel like I missed out because I was able to cook with fresh Japanese ingredients and to me nothing gets better than that. I really want to email Lisa and ask her to FedEx me some tofu so I can show people what it is really suppose to taste like. Now if you are ever in the Osaka/Kyoto area and are looking for a home away from home, check out Lisa's listing, You won't be disappointed.