29 October, 2016
We had planned to do a number of things today. First on the list was to go to the Veg Fest at Yoyogi Park. I suggested we walked to the event instead of taking the train since the weather was lovely and I needed some exercise. It was a pleasant walk through the park to get to the event square where the festival was being held. Along the way, we met hordes of tourists and Japanese families decked out in their best clothes making their way to the Meiji Shrine There were some chrysanthemums on display along the path to the shrine which had intrigued the Western tourists more than the Asian ones, I noticed. We stopped by the souvenir shop at the park just to browse since we were early and the event would only start at 10 a.m. There’s quite a number of interesting items here and wished I had bought something to give away or to keep for myself.
Detailed information on the Veg. Fest was in Japanese so locating the event in that vast park posed a real challenge. After walking for almost an hour, we finally found it. Thank God we didn’t give up looking for it or it would have been a wasted trip. It was not held at the park but on the grounds opposite the park (where the fountain was). I had purposely skipped breakfast so that I could try a variety of foods they would have offered at this event. We got a burger, some Japanese wagashi, a bento box, sushi, cookies and cakes – all vegan and all yummy!
If I’m not wrong, this 2-day event is held only once a year (sometime in October or November) in Tokyo and also other cities like Kyoto and Nagoya. We were lucky that we happened to be here when this was held.
We crossed the road to get back to the park because I couldn’t wait to eat the foods we had bought. There were many benches at the park and we picked one quickly. There were many joggers at the park that morning . After finishing the bento meal, we made our way to the UN University where the farmer’s market was held. The farmer’s market at the UN University is now held every weekend, from 10 am to 4 pm. Besides dozens of stalls selling farm-fresh fruits and vegetables, there are also a few food trucks selling coffee, snacks and curry dishes. Do check it out if you happen to be in Tokyo during the weekends and buy produce direct from the farmers who grow them. You can either get off at Shibuya (exit 11) or Omotesando station (exit B2) to get to this market.
Sarah had made an appointment to dye her hair at Assort Salon in Aoyama. As we were walking to the salon from the university, we chanced upon a rather interesting and cozy nook. There were stalls selling mostly foods and drinks. Sarah got a chai soya latte from a vegan foodstand.
While the princess got her tresses tended to, I walked around Aoyama. There’s a huge Franc Franc store located along the main road (address is 3–1–3 Minami-Aoyama) and for those of you who have missed the store since its departure from our sunny island, this is a must-visit. It’s a 4-minute walk from Gaienmae station. There’s a cosy cafe on the 2nd floor of this store should you need to take a break from all that walking.
After walking for half an hour or so, I decided to go back to the salon, thinking that the treatment was going to be over soon. I couldn’t believe she was not even halfway through! Since she had asked for blue streaks in her hair, they had to bleach it first and then dyed it blue. The whole process took 4 hours! With a lot of time to kill, I asked if I could do a hair treatment since it looked and felt like it needed some pampering. I opted for the ‘Relaxation Head Spa, 45-minute’ treatment. It was stated on the menu that it would cost 6000 yen but I found out later that the cost did not include the cost for washing and blow-drying. Those two would add another 3000 yen.:( The head and shoulder massage I got was heavenly though. So good that at some point I think I fell asleep!
We left the salon 30 000 yen poorer. Service was good but not sure if it was worth spending that much amount of money. Anyway, money has been spent and lesson learnt, so move on.
It was already dark when we stepped out of the salon. There were a few vegan/vegetarian restaurants nearby and we settled for Brown Rice by Neal’s Yard Remedies in Omotesando because it was closest to where we were. We almost missed the path that would lead us to the restaurant. As you can tell from the picture below, the front of the restaurant is not visible from the street. The cafe specialises in healthy whole foods with most recipes based on Japanese cooking. Everything on the menu is vegetarian (and mostly vegan). Next to the cafe is Neal’s Yard Remedies, a natural cosmetics shop. After I paid for the meal, the cashier handed me a coupon which entitled me to a free ‘something’ from the cosmetics shop. I wasn’t sure what I was entitled to as she rattled on in Japanese while handing me the coupon but from the gestures she made, I guessed it could either be a free hand massage or free hand cream. I didn’t bother to go to the shop to claim my free gift/treatment. I was afraid that I would feel obliged to get something I didn’t need.
I wasn’t hungry since I had already eaten a lot earlier so I ordered one set dish for Sarah.
There was another item on the list that we did not manage to do today and that was to visit Shimokitazawa. We totally underestimated the time that Sarah would take to do her hair. By the time she was done, it was already past 5 p.m. So after dinner, we went back to the hotel and called it a day. We had walked more than 12 km and thought that was enough for the day.