A childhood diet of video games and an appreciation of Japanese cinema at university piqued my interest in Japan. I first found myself there six years ago, working as an English teacher in the suburbs of Tokyo. Of course my preconceptions were superficial and the country I discovered was mind-blowing in more ways than I could have expected.
After around two years living in Tokyo and having journeyed from the north to the south of the main islands, I still discover new foods, hidden side-streets and a heartfelt welcome in every single place I visit.
For me, Japan is a learning experience. It challenges (and improves) your palate, it introduces you to different ways of living and thinking, and it led me to become more interested in history, languages and literatures in general. Ever since my first visit, I am at my happiest when encouraging others to have their own adventure in Japan.
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I'll never forget when…
I spent an incredible New Year’s Eve in Miyajima and Hiroshima. After watching the sun set behind the renowned Itsukushima ‘floating’ torii gate, the locals prepared for the fire festival. Wearing traditional dress, the adults proceeded along the coast carrying enormous flaming logs, followed by the children of the island carrying smaller flaming pillars. After the ceremony finished, I hopped on the ferry to Hiroshima, and made my way to the shrine to see in the new year as part of the huge crowds celebrating, enjoying street food and praying for a healthy and prosperous year.