Unknown Japan; Setouchi Islands

The less-visited region of Setouchi, the largest inland sea in Japan, surrounded by seven geographically diverse prefectures, is a place whose beauty is hard to describe; still azure waters broken by rising rocky mounds, some covered in lush vegetation, others sheer as if forced up from the sea bed only yesterday. Tiny towns of wooden…

Kyoto’s Hidden Bamboo Forest

A trip to Kyoto, for most, isn’t complete without setting your sights on the iconic Sagano (Arashiyama) bamboo grove. Long gone are the days when you could visit without sharing the spot with a host of other tourists, but it’s tranquility and beauty pales in comparison to the verdant green and undisturbed charm of Muko…

Unknown Japan; Rural Nara Part Three

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 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…

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…

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…