I was born in Tokyo, and although I didn’t grow up there, I’ve always had a love for Japan. After graduating from university, I decided to return and lived in Tokyo for three years. During this time, I was lucky enough to travel the country, enjoying the regional dishes and local specialities of each area. I was keen to keep a connection with Japan on my return to the UK and working as a travel specialist with Audley seemed the perfect way to do this. Japan is so vastly different to the UK, and is such a rewarding place to travel. Whether you’re interested in history, religion, art, food or adventure, there’s a wealth of things to see and do. I hope my love for the country and my first-hand experience there can help others looking to see and experience Japan’s wonders.
Q&A with Hannah
What's the best local dish you've tasted?
Without a doubt, it’s got to be Kobe beef. Although Kobe beef is internationally renowned for its succulence, tenderness and marbled appearance, it’s hard to appreciate what this actually means until you taste it yourself. The melt in-in-your mouth texture is simply unforgettable. It’s very difficult to get proper Kobe beef outside Japan as such a small quantity is exported, so if you’re visiting and a meat eater, then don’t miss it. Opt for a tasting menu if given the chance so you can try different cuts and grades of meat. You won’t be disappointed.
What's your best piece of travel advice?
Omotenashi, the concept behind the art of Japanese hospitality, is deeply rooted in Japanese culture and based on mutual respect. Japanese people take a lot of pride in sharing their culture and any effort to understand it and follow their rules of etiquette is highly appreciated. Learning a couple of words or phrases in Japanese is a good way to start. Even just the basics of ‘Hello’, ‘Thank you’, or ‘Excuse me’, go a long way. Equally, taking the time to take your shoes off or learning how to hold your chopsticks is seen as a much-valued sign of respect.
What’s the one thing you always pack?
It sounds fairly obvious, but it’s my phone. The Google Translate app is invaluable when you don’t speak the local language and lets you take a picture of a menu which it will then translate for you. Google Maps also helps a lot for getting around new and unfamiliar cities.