Unknown Japan; Rural Nara Part Two

For years tourists to Japan have been drawn to the country’s first capital, Nara. The ancient city where deer roam free and imposing temples as old as the founding of the city itself attract visitors in droves to marvel at the beauty of Old Japan. But there’s so much more to the prefecture, and of…

Unknown Japan; Rural Nara Part One

For years tourists to Japan have been drawn to the country’s first capital, Nara. The ancient city where deer roam free and imposing temples as old as the founding of the city itself attract visitors in droves to marvel at the beauty of Old Japan. But there’s so much more to the prefecture, and of…

Kyoto’s Hidden Mountain Temples

Surrounded by mountains on three sides, Kyoto is perfectly situated to escape into the wilderness. The city itself is small and you’re never too far from lush green hills, hiking trails and my personal favourite: hidden mountain temples. Sitting amidst the backdrop of Mount Takao, Kosan-ji temple is truly a hidden treasure. Not so easily…

24 Hours in Kanazawa

Kanazawa is beautiful at this time of the year. It’s beautiful at any time of the year, but now, the air is crisp and cold, the trees are burning bright reds and yellows, and the snow crab is sweet, juicy and ready for eating. Famed for its delicious seafood, ancient culture and contemporary art scene,…

Kyoto Gardens

Experience peaceful landscapes amidst a buzzing city strewn with tourists. Be seduced by holistic hideaways in the form of Kyoto’s most beautiful zen gardens, synonymous with the city’s status of Japan’s cultural heartland. In a place where beautiful gardens number into their hundreds, you won’t be hard pressed to find a secret sanctuary, but here…

Eco-Luxe in the Foothills of Mount Fuji

Mount Fuji is Japan’s most recognizable natural landmark, a volcano whose shape is so stereotypically perfect, it has been immortalized by famous artists, poets and photographers for centuries. Surrounded by unrivalled natural beauty and less than two hours from central Tokyo, the area is a completely different side to Japan, one full of sacred scenery,…

Toji Temple

Rising from the city skyline, Japan’s tallest pagoda at Toji is an elegant reminder of Heian Kyo, ‘the capital of peace and tranquility’ and now a symbol of this beautiful ancient city. The arrival of the imperial court in Kyoto in 794 brought with it the new Heian Jidai and the building of a new…

Kyoto’s Best Sakura Spots

It’s that time again. Spring is here and the air is filled with the scent of ume blossom, the pretty pink petals reminding us that sakura season is just around the corner. This year (2019), because winter was warmer than average, the cherry blossoms are expected to open earlier than average, with predictions for first…

Unknown Japan; Iya Valley

Driving into the Iya Valley (you must drive, the remoteness of the place makes public transport an almost impossible option), you’d be forgiven for thinking that you’d driven onto the set of the latest Jurassic Park or King Kong film. Largely unpopulated, mountains rise from the land, their forested facades hiding many treasures. Historic minka…

Himeji; Come for the Castle, Stay for the Sake

Himeji is a city famed for its castle. And why shouldn’t it be? It’s beautiful. Maybe even Japan’s most spectacular castle. Its grand size, beauty and immaculately preserved grounds have earned it the nickname ‘white heron castle’ for its pristine exterior that mimics the elegance of a heron in flight. The castle is both a…

Kyoto by the Sea

When imagining Kyoto, beautiful blue sea, tiny fishing towns and Naval ports aren’t the first things that spring to mind. To most, Kyoto means Kyoto City; the heart of Japan’s cultural heritage and home to the most UNESCO World Heritage sites of almost any conurbation on the planet. To most, Kyoto doesn’t mean glorious seaside,…

Incredible Ise

In May, during Golden Week, I decided to explore Ise. I’d been to the area once before during my first few months in Japan to visit the newly opened Amanemu (read about that here), but I didn’t really leave the hotel to investigate the area. This time I returned with intrepid travels as my goal,…