This post is sponsored by moodAway.
Back in November I spent four weeks in Japan travelling by train from Yakushima, a small island off the southwestern corner of the country, to Sapporo on Hokkaido, the northernmost of the four main islands. I spent the first two weeks with my friend Kateline then, after she flew back to the UK, continued up on my own.
And it is now one of my very favourite countries in the world, and I finally understood what made my friend Tom spend three years there. I’m already plotting ways of returning for much longer.
The problem with loving countries sometimes though is that it’s so hard to explain why you do. It’s a gut thing, a “this is a good place for me” kind of feeling. But here are just a few of the reasons:
I love the onsens; the ritual of them and how calm and clean they made me feel. I love how polite, kind and thoughtful the Japanese are. How willing they are to go out of their way to help you. I love the Japanese aesthetic: the simple lines, light mellowed through yellow handmade paper, and everything pared back to the essentials. I love the feel of tatami mats under my feet. I love the colour of the leaves in Autumn (was so pleased we went at that time of year): bold pink, vibrant red and fiery orange. I love the food, especially the noodles. Udon. Soba. Ramen. I love the weird grain tea they serve with everything. I love how on occasion you get a side of sweet potato with your coffee. I love the landscapes; from the wild rocky beaches of Yakushima, to the red and gold sponged Alps, to the bleak, wild seascapes of the north. I love how even the busiest parts of the most frantic cities are still somehow quiet. I love how peaceful I feel there.
So here are my favourite spots and recommendations. I’ve made a moodAway board for each of the five areas I visited. They’re like epostcards, which you can flip over to read more about the subject, and to find out where each specific photo was taken. You can then share them on social media, or embed them like I have done. They’re kind of neat, right?
Some of the photographs I’ve used, particularly the food ones, were taken by Kateline and nabbed off her Facebook. She’s a pretty amazing cook (“does anyone fancy some churros? I could just make some” Seriously.) and shares photos of her cooking and London eating out on Instagram. Follow her.