I know that admitting that I like Starbucks makes me tragically unhip in the Portland scene, but when you are far, far away from the gluttony of gourmet coffee shops that the NW offers, Starbucks becomes a very reliable and delicious cup of coffee, albeit expensive. Way more expensive than in the States, too. A tall cup of Starbucks drip coffee in Japan is 340 Yen, about $3.50. That's more than I prefer to pay, so I only stop in on special occasions (I'm super tired, it's Friday) or to soak up the ambiance and get out of the house. Since I'm all alone this spring break (I honestly don't have the phone number of one person who is in the country), I've been going there to work on my papers for my masters classes and catch up on reading. The people who work there are friendly (I know I'm paying them, but come on, it's human interaction!) and it's a chance to practice my faltering Japanese ("taru kohi howsu burendu, o kudasai"). It's nice to just sit and watch people interact, too. A group of older Japanese ladies came into gossip, a young couple looks out the window at the rain, a business man works on his laptop. We really are all the same around the world.
Today a guy came in, ordered a cup of coffee, and promptly fell asleep on his table. I swear, the Japanese have an uncanny ability to fall asleep comfortably anywhere they wish. I've seen people sleep standing up on the train without holding onto anything. Many get on the train, put their head down, fall asleep, and manage to wake up just in time for their stop. It's like their body is in sync with the stops of the train. Living in the city takes away the rhythms of nature, and replaces it with the rhythms of the city--alarm clocks, street signals, train schedules, even falling in step with the rush hour crowd. City life takes its toll on people who aren't used to it, but for those who know nothing else, it's their natural cycle.