Remember the anti-Japan hysteria of the 1980s? The real conspiracy is not against American trade supremacy. It's against vegetarians

I've been in 東京/Tokyo for about ten days now and everything's pretty good for the most part. Thanks to Ariel's sacrifice of tolerating an hour and half commute to her language classes, we're living in 新宿/Shinjuku, which has the busiest train station in the world, one of Tokyo's largest shopping districts, its main red light district, its metropolitan government, its largest concentration of skyscrapers, and its biggest gay and lesbian community. Fortunately we live on the edges of all the clamor while still within easy reach of trains and restaurants.

The restaurants, alas, are not worth much to a vegetarian. One important question I've been contemplating recently is how the Japanese maintain such iron discipline in their conspiracy against vegetarians. Consider:
  • We went to a Mexican restaurant that had no beans.
  • We went to a Thai restaurant that had no tofu.
  • Japanese restaurants fall into a handful of different categories - 寿司/sushi, 居酒屋/izakaya (bar food), 焼き鳥/yakitori (skewers), ラーメン/ramen, うどん/udon and そば/soba, とんかつ/tonkatsu (deep fried cutlets), 天ぷら/tenpura - each of which might have some vegetarian options but generally not enough to make a meal out of.
  • Dishes that could easily be made vegetarian, like noodles or tenpura, are invariably sabotaged by adding fish to the broth or sauce or sprinkling かつお節/bonito flakes on top.
  • Japanese curry, which I used to eat quite happily when I first lived in 中国/China, is always sabotaged by using a beef base.
  • Japan actually does have a tradition of meatless cooking adapted from the Chinese Buddhist tradition that makes China such a wonderful place to be a vegetarian. But 精進料理/shoujin ryouri, rather than a boon for vegetarians, is used to break our will: it's so expensive (around $100/person for a meal) that the one thing that could save us is beyond our grasp.
Okay, it's not really bad as all that. Italian food is pretty widespread, if by Italian food you mean mediocre spaghetti and pizza (none of which is vegan I'm sure). And far more important, the anti-vegetarian blockade has been fatally broken by the many good Indian places in Tokyo. Finally, if you have all day to do online research (which I do), you can find the handful of all-vegan restaurants produced by the best mini-fad in Tokyo since the electronic pet that dies if you don't press the feeding button.

In between looking for restaurants online, I'm reading Capital, volume 1, enjoying Tokyo's incredible transit system (including the new subway line a couple minutes from our place that opened three days before we got here), and making my way around to the sights.

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