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,…

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…

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,…

24 Hours in Osaka

It’s a travesty that I have lived in Kyoto for over two years and, until a month ago, had never visited Osaka. Only 45 minutes by local line train or 15 minutes by Shinkansen, if you’re feeling flush. Luckily my flat sits on the Keihan line, whizzing me from Gion-Shijo to Kitahama (central Osaka) in…

My Guide to Gion; A Walking Tour

Famed as being one of the most mesmerizing districts in Kyoto, Gion is an area of stunning temples, maiko meeting places and local eateries that are perfect to while away a day in the ancient capital. Kyoto’s magic lies in it’s ability to preserve the old and welcome the new. The Station Building is testament…

Where to See Plum Blossoms in Kyoto

Japan is known for its incredible seasons, particularly the spring when towns, cities and countryside are awash with colour from vibrant petals on myriad types of blossoming trees and plants. Although cherry blossoms – sakura – get all the glory, Japan’s blossom season starts in late February/ early March with the much more fragrant Japanese…

Kyoto’s Only Michelin-Starred Soba

Glowing from the natural light that streams through its front windows, Ogawa’s specialty is soba. Michelin-starred soba; a type of noodle that has been eaten in Japan for centuries. These tasty morsels are usually something that is knocked up at low-key eateries on almost every street corner across Japan, so it’s surprising to find a…

Old Kyoto

Arriving into Kyoto station you’d be forgiven for thinking that this ancient capital was perhaps not so well preserved. The station building; a towering structure of glass and steel surrounded by neon signs of karaoke bars, shops and the illuminations of the Kyoto Tower, an antenae-like symbol jutting from the city’s skyline.  Don’t get me…

OHara!

If you’ve had enough of the Kyoto cityscape and want to escape to a rural retreat only an hour from Kyoto, Ohara should be high on your list. Only 45 minutes by bus from central Kyoto, Ohara is a tiny town just on the northern limits of the City Famed for a Thousand Temples. There’s…

Yunohana Onsen

I love onsen. It’s maybe one of my favourite aspects of Japanese culture. So naturally, for our wedding anniversary this year, I decided to book my husband and I in for some much needed onsen indulgence at Sumiya Kiho-an, a dreamy ryokan in the mountains to the west of Kyoto. We headed to Sumiya, first…

Navigating Nara

What I loved most about Nara was the connection to nature that you felt everywhere. Beautiful temples crafted from ornate, carved wood that were nestled amongst trees, lakes and pristine parkland. Not to mention the deer! It just felt so different to Kyoto, no better, no worse, just beautiful. Most people go to Nara for…