Iya is known as one of Japan's "hidden regions", being tucked away in the heart of Shikoku, Japan's smallest and least visited island. The rolling green mountains, turquoise streams and "Indiana Jones" style vine bridges make this an incredibly unique and visually stunning part of the country. Infrequently visited by tourists, this is a place to escape the crowds of the cities and take in the unspoiled nature from a steaming hot spring bath, or an eye wateringly high rope bridge.
Rebecca, Japan & Vietnam Specialist
For me, the appeal of both Japan and Vietnam is the same, despite being very different destinations. They both offer a fascinating contrast between the ancient and the modern, a huge diversity of landscapes and experiences on offer, and all importantly, incredibly welcoming and warm locals.
I lived in both Tokyo and Osaka for a number of years as a university student and as a teacher, struggling to come to grips with the language along the way. I fell in love with the weird and wonderful food, the immaculate public transport, and the winding back alleys of these quirky cities where adventure is always to be found. It was whilst living in Japan that I was finally able to afford the air fare to Vietnam, which quickly became another obsession. Locals sat on train tracks in Hanoi drinking coffee, the colours and spices of a morning market, the hum of the Mekong delta, the rolling hills of the Northern Alps; I was instantly hooked. Now having travelled the country extensively, I am amazed that I always find something new and exciting on every visit.
After reluctantly returning home, I now use this passion for travel to create incredible experiences of Japan and Vietnam for others. When I'm not travelling, you can find me at the cinema watching anything and everything, or exploring London with my trusty bike.
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Simple and rustic, yet bursting with character, Coco Riverside is always a memorable experience. The perfect base from which to explore the beautiful surroundings, or meet the local villagers going about their day, the lodge allows you to see and experience the “real” Mekong. The highlight of my stay was sharing a rice wine with the lodge’s neighbours next door, who serenaded me with traditional songs from the south by guitar and harmonica.
I'll never forget when…
The Shimanamikaido is the longest set of suspension bridges in the world, linking Japan’s mainland of Honshu to the smallest of the main islands, Shikoku, via a handful of green islands and beaches. There is a dedicated cycling path the whole way, offering incredible vistas and even the chance to do a bit of swimming, or whirlpool spotting from the Naruto Bridge. This eight hour cycle is one of the most memorable moments of my time in Japan, mostly down to the incredible views, and sense of camaraderie amongst other cyclists on the path. Whilst some parts are admittedly quite hard work, the feeling of cruising down one of the main bridges whilst taking in the beautiful panoramic views of the Seto Inland Sea and its islands, wind in your hair, was more than worth it! I will also fondly remember not being able to walk properly for the following couple of days.