The dish that arrived on our table was met with confused feelings of fascination and disgust. It was still alive. It was an abalone, and we watched aghast at its preparation. A humungous sea snail in a half-shell the size of my entire hand was placed on a small grill, whilst a fiery hot barbeque bead … More Staying in a Traditional Japanese Ryokan in Izu
As we stepped out of the ticket gates at Beppu station, a family was waving enthusiastically at us. We had never met our hosts, but they seemed to recognise us straight away. Japanese hospitality was already impressing us – they instantly welcomed us as part of the family.
Okonomiyaki is one of my favourite things to eat in Japan, a kind of fried pancake-omelette, based on cabbage and egg, with different combinations of vegetables and meats. It is fried on a teppan, a large hotplate, until both sides are brown and crispy, then served to the plate sliced up with a small spatula … More Which Is The Best Okonomiyaki? Tokyo Monjayaki vs. Hiroshimayaki
Osaka Castle The samurai screamed a short, sharp battle cry, and drew his sword to expose the blade halfway from the hilt. The noise caught my attention, and I turned to see the commotion. The tourist walked away, and a new one walked up, also dressed in samurai costume, to join the staff member in … More Visiting the Highlights (and tourist traps) of Osaka
With a splash, the first crazy reveller jumped into the icy canal from the arching bridge. A laughing cheer rose from the huge crowd in Dotonbori, the centre of Osaka’s entertainment district, a high-rise cacophony of neon billboards, crushing crowds and outrageously decorated restaurants.
Don’t think of Kyoto as a high-rise supercity like Tokyo or Osaka. It has plenty of buildings, sure, but think of it as a place of culture, tradition, clothes, food, and vibrant colour. Temples, food, kimonos – all these things are celebrated in a city that has no fewer than 17 UNESCO World Heritage sights.
We were the last ones in the bus, sitting in the back seat with our backpacks still on. We craned our necks to find any kind of sign as to where we were, but night had already fallen, and there were no streetlamps on this zig-zagging mountain road. It reminded me very much of the … More Hiking the Magome – Tsumago trail (in winter)
In the subway tunnels under Tokyo, 1am – we sat on the carriage and watched a Japanese salaryman fast asleep and snoring, collapsed like a ragdoll, briefcase at his feet. We were delighted to observe a slice of Tokyo’s famous workaholic culture, so we invented for him a whole backstory…
Japan was one of most wonderful destinations we had ever been to. I always imagined two sides of Japan – the historical and traditional Japan of temples and geishas, against the hyper-modern cities, cartoons and robots. In-between it all, there are so many tiny quirks and conveniences that are the cherry on top of an … More A few little reasons that make you want to visit Japan