Finding Peace at Tokyo’s Meiji Shrine

A few white robed monks were silently raking the gravel, and there was no sound but birdsong. We were in the Outer Precinct of the Meiji Shrine, a massive forest with trees of every species. The morning was bitterly cold, and there was hardly anyone about. A far cry...

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Springtime in Tokyo’s Shinjuku National Garden

According to ancient tradition, Spring in Japan begins at the start of February. We had seen people with their cameras, eagerly snapping pictures of early narcissi, but this did not stop the snow from tumbling down. The snow was still on the ground when we visited the...

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By Train to the Cinque Terre

It was the ultimate antidote to my growing dislike of hanging around at airports and negotiating with car hire firms: a holiday by train from start to finish. We travelled to the Cinque Terre by a combination of Eurostar, overnight sleeper to Milan and local train to...

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Tokyo: Urban Sprawl or City of Beauty?

It is said that the Japanese have a great sense of beauty, but no sense of ugliness. I pondered this as I took the airport train to Tokyo, a brief stopover on my way to New Zealand. From the window I could see a hotchpotch of houses, some elegant and well designed,...

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