Okay, I’ll admit it, I was nervous about using a Japanese onsen. I’m not a big nudist. In fact I think the best time to be nude is when you have a lot of clothes on, and maybe a coat.
When I read ‘monastery stay’ on our Intrepid Japan itinerary I was a little sceptical about what I’d find. Truthfully I was picturing some 1980s brick building staffed by Canadian expats with names like ‘Floating Leaf’ or ‘Jarod’, and dotted with plastic Buddha statues and inspirational posters.
“Nothing will go well, so you always feel uneasy.” Wish these words, the dragon robot sealed my fate.
Fun fact: Tokyo has more Michelin starred restaurants than London, Paris and New York combined.
In the evenings, in Kyoto, there’s a particular hour where the light shifts from white to gold. Central Kyoto runs on a grid – north-south and east-west – which, it turns out, is absolute money for a photographer.
We’re standing on the third floor of a nondescript building in downtown Tokyo, a light and airy space used for soba noodle workshops. The air sparkles with tiny particles of buckwheat flour. At the centre of a group of 12 stunned gaikokujin (foreigners, i.e. us) a small and shrunken old man is patiently building soba noodles from scratch.
Soup gets a bad rap. Some people consider anything in liquid form a pathetic excuse for a meal. We wholeheartedly disagree, and we think you might too once you’ve had a little look at this list.
What is it that’s so irresistible about a dumpling? Putting aside the fact they’ve got the cutest name of all the food groups, dumplings seem to be inherently delicious on a molecular level.
Shakespeare once said, ‘The sauce to meat is ceremony; meeting were bare without it.’ Basically this translates to, ‘Festivals, they’re pretty cool, eh?’ And those Elizabethans really knew how to party, so I’m inclined to agree with his opinion. Ceremonies and festivals are the cultural glue that binds us as people.
What is it about Asia that throws up strange and unusual places to rest your head? It’s as if there’s some inaudible signal being broadcast causing architects and hoteliers to try and one-up each other in a race towards the weird and wonderful. Hey, I know, let’s make them sleep in a giant elephant! No, why not in tiny cubicles stacked like sardine tins! It’s like Lewis Carol and Gaudi decided to get together and start a small interior design business.