My bowl of udon tempura was so small, it fit into the palm of my hand. I couldn’t eat it either, because the chopsticks were the size of toothpicks. It was, however, extremely fun to make. In Mayuka’s Bonchi studio of miniature plastic food, we sliced tiny clay noodles, painted little shallots, and poured epoxy … More Kyoto in sketches: Japan’s cultural heart
Dambulla temple is Sri Lanka’s best preserved cave temple complex, one of the country’s fantastic UNESCO world heritage sights. At the top of a tall hill, the caves are filled with incredible wall fresco paintings, images of past kings and queens, and many golden statues of the Buddha.
There was a quiet excitement and sense of mystery as we travelled towards the secluded temple town of Koyasan, taking smaller and smaller trains through rural areas and up into the mountains. It began wending up a high mountain line, past tiny train platforms bulging with tree roots and overgrown with rich green creepers, some … More Koyasan: an illustrated guide to visiting Japan’s most sacred mountain
Is it better to see Nara as a day trip, or stay overnight? I’ve done both, and I’ve got some good reasons why staying is better. Walking through the city centre takes less than an hour, and that leaves plenty of time to see Tōdai-ji temple, and feed the deer. It’s definitely doable in a … More Why Nara deserves more than just a day trip
Near the top of the mountain, we walked into a perfect view of Fushimi Inari’s torii gates. We turned a corner, and there it was waiting for us, with no tourists or anything. A long tunnel of vermillion was being illuminated by a perfectly angled sun, turning every gate a different shade of bright orange, … More Experiencing Fushimi Inari: an illustrated walkthrough
With Kyoto’s 1600 Buddhist temples, and 400 Shinto shrines to choose from, the choice of where to visit seemed overwhelming. After some research, we narrowed our visit down to just a few standouts.
Kyoto’s eye-catching bamboo forest is called Arashiyama, and you’ve probably seen photos of it before. The forest is dense and tall, and wandering through it is a lovely, elemental experience, feeling completely enveloped by these hollow giants.
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.
On one of the boulevards of pretty Ueno park, we were stopped by a Japanese student. He was practicing caricatures, and wanted to draw us. It sounded pretty cool, so we sat on the edge of the walking track.
The coins rattled and clinked as they fell down, and with a thunk, our Cherry Coke fell out of the bottom of the vending machine. Now, we had the energy to explore mighty Shinjuku!