Hilary first went to Japan as an exchange student, spending a year in Tokyo as part of her BSc in Business Studies and Japanese. What began as a curious interest soon became an all-consuming passion as she explored the capital.
From Tokyo, she ventured around the country's many cities and islands, delighting in the chance to ski on Hokkaido, laze on the sub-tropical beaches of Okinawa and relish in the incredible regional food.
As she became more fluent in Japanese she gained a deeper understanding of the country and its people and developed an unshakable love of travel. She's been working as a Japanese travel specialist since graduation, eager to share her love of Japan with those who wish to see and experience what it has to offer.
I'll never forget when…
I always feel like I'm beginning to understand a place when I start to see things through local eyes, a sensation that hit me when I spent New Year in Tokyo. I took a more traditional approach and visited the shrines and temples in Ueno, joining the locals at midnight to hit the bell at the top of the Buddhist temple. It's a longstanding tradition that the bell should be rung by 108 different people to usher in the New Year, after which we ate, drank and waited for the first sunrise before celebrating 'Hatsumode' (the first shrine visit of the year).