A Taste of Japan
Debbie's Japanese love affair began when she graduated from university and escaped to the country with a one-way ticket. A one-year placement teaching English turned into a three year adventure, and she fell hook, line, and sinker for the beautiful landscape, the ancient culture, and the gentle people. Living on the southern island of Kyushu, she was able to travel at weekends, and has fond memories of regular karaoke nights, wandering around the old capital, Nara, and joining the locals as they migrated to the temples in Kyoto at midnight to see in the Millennium. She returns regularly to visit friends and explore more of the country.
Japan's 2014 sumo wrestling dates have now been announced, and if you'd like to catch a match on your visit to Japan we'll be happy to arrange it for you. The 15 day tournaments will take place in Osaka between the 9th and 23rd March, and Tokyo between the 11th and 25th May.
The Place to be
Lofty, forested and serene, Mount Koya offers breathtaking views and a glimpse into ancient Japanese tradition. The town of Koya-San, seemingly suspended between the clouds, is home to more than a hundred monasteries. After a dramatic journey to the top, we recommend exploring the ancient Okunoin cemetery and a night in a tranquil mountaintop retreat.
Winter Wildlife in Hokkaido
The northernmost of Japan's four main islands, untamed Hokkaido is home to dense forest, snow-covered peaks, coastal wetlands and bubbling volcanoes. The wildlife is wonderful; in the Jigokudani Valley you'll find pink-faced Macaques who spend cold winter days keeping warm in the rich network of hot springs.
No visit to Japan is complete without a stay in a ryokan - traditional Japanese inns which, instead of ubiquitous hotel mini-bars and swimming pools, offer tatami floors, futon beds, Japanese style baths and flavoursome local cuisine. Iwaso Miyajima is our top pick.
Japan has something to offer year-round, but the spring, when all the cherry blossom trees are in bloom, is an especially beautiful time to go.
The bestselling book Kitchen by Japanese author Banana Yoshimoto paints a wonderfully vivid picture of modern-day Japan and its cuisine. A great pre-travel read!
Discover the hidden secrets of Kyoto beyond Geisha and tea shops. A cycle tour through the mysterious bamboo groves of Arashiyama, very reminiscent of Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, is not to be missed.
After a sumo match, head to a traditional chanko-nabe restaurant to sample the delicious, protein-stew which is eaten in vast quantities by the wrestlers. The best ones can be found in Ryokugo, Tokyo.
I would also like to make special mention of Thida Win - she is an absolutely wonderful guide - very kind, patient, knowledgeable and a consummate professional in undertaking her job. She made sure that everything happened seamlessly without any hitches whatsoever - she is a great advert for A&K and for Myanmar.
Friends of Conservation (FOC)
Facilitate projects in the Greater Masai Mara Region with ongoing support from AKP, including Conservation Clubs in ten schools and Alternative Energy initiatives.
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