In our Slow Travel Manifesto we said that one of our most enjoyable ways to explore a new place is to wander aimlessly and be open to what we might come across. In a big city this can be overwhelming and the best way to focus your exploration is to choose a specific neighbourhood. Our favourite cities have distinct diverse neighbourhoods with their own characters, and we gravitate towards areas with independent businesses and restaurants, good food, an artistic creative vibe, beautiful architecture, or a village-like feel.
Japan was a country we had always dreamed of visiting but due to its expense we put it off for “one day”. Then the opportunity to house sit came along and how could we resist the chance to live in Kyoto rent-free for over three weeks? We did agonise over the decision as what with the flights and travel costs to see some of the country while we were there, it was a financial risk. But we went with it and never regretted our decision.
On the 6th August 1945, ‘Little Boy’ exploded directly above the Hiroshima Prefectural Commercial Exhibition Hall instantly killing everyone inside. The crumbling skeleton of the building stands as a haunting monument to the tens of thousands that died immediately and in the decades that followed.
It took eight modes of transport to get to Koya-san from Kyoto: metro, bullet train, metro, train, bus, train, cable car, bus. In any other country the journey would have taken all day, but despite a damaged train track from the recent typhoon, in Japan it took less than four hours and the transfers were seamless.
Being a vegetarian in Japan can be difficult, but with some effort and pre-planning can also be very rewarding. Although we despaired at times of finding a veggie-friendly meal, and fish did turn up in our food on occasion, we also had some of the most unusual and delicious meals we have ever eaten. We loved the foodie culture in Japan and found the food to be high quality, beautifully presented and healthy.