Of course I did some research and spent quite a bit of time on Pinterest searching for cool Tokyo coffee shops and vegetarian places to eat at before travelling to Tokyo.
However, on the day I went to have lunch and coffee at one of the places it was actually closed. So I kept walking, being freezing cold and desperately in need of a hot cup of (good!) coffee and some heartwarming food. Having your camera out all the time in winter isn't exactly what your hands and fingers long for either. I was lucky when I came across this cute little place called Itonowa. It's a small cafe in one of the old parts of Tokyo, filled with wooden tables, chairs, and lots of light. Scandinavian inspired in a way. It wasn't very busy when I got there, so I sat down by the window and ordered some coffee with milk. It wasn't the type of coffee you get at a cool Melbourne "barista cafe", instead it was the type of coffee my grandma would have made at home. A big cup of freshly stove-brewed coffee with heated up milk (when you get that layer of skin on top - which I hate, but you can always take it off). It was a very homely and cosy moment.
After taking my usual Instagram coffee picture I approached the waitress to ask about taking some photos for the blog. Of course I had to get out my phone and use Google Translate for help. ;)
We managed to communicate, she explained that the owner worked a couple of streets away at another store she owned, and that we could go there together. Such a lovely gesture - we put on our jackets and headed over there.
The owner was just as kind, and we agreed that I'd come back the next day to take some pictures (see below).
When I came in the next morning the owner and her husband prepared some vegetable soup, toast with homemade jam, and strawberry cake. They were some of the most welcoming people I've met. Before I left they gave me two small jars of homemade jam to take home. It was such a nice experience making friends in Tokyo at this lovely place and communicating using hands, body language and Google Translate only. Google Translate - always!
I kept exploring after that, and got to see the sheer immensity and density of Tokyo city!