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JAPAN


THREE PLACES TO VISIT


OKAGE YOKOCHO IN ISE, MIE PREFECTURE On the approach to the Jingu Shrine, this quaint cobbled street is lined with food stores and souvenir shops


selling handmade goods and traditional items. Try the tofu donuts and ice cream – amazing to even the staunchest of tofu haters.


ABOVE: Flora takes a well-earned rest on the Kumano Kodo route, and ladies in traditional dress


and somehow gave me the strength to carry on.


I was euphoric as I reached the


top, and the awe-inspiring views were certainly reward enough for my hard work. I could have spent hours here, but I had to move on, as the showstopper – Nachi Falls – was still to come. With a drop of 436ft, it’s one of Japan’s tallest and most spectacular waterfalls. There are two rocks at the top of the falls, known locally as the guardian spirits of nature, called kami. Shingon Buddhists believe that if you look after nature, nature looks after you, so it was no surprise that in this most beautiful place sits a spirit that they applaud and adorn with love. Purified at each temple and having made wishes to every kami under the sun, I felt relaxed and rested.


Hugging trees for energy and being fed the healthiest food I’ve ever eaten – was this a new me? Had I actually found myself in the middle of a Japanese forest? Fascinating,


magical and a little crazy, these experiences seemed to be everything that makes Japan unique. And the people are the most courteous, genuinely good-mannered and friendliest you will meet anywhere in the world. They are what makes Japan so beautiful. I certainly found myself in Japan, and I’m already plotting my return


so I can delve a little deeper. SEEJAPAN.CO.UK AMANEMU REVIEW


GETTING THERE?


Japanese airline All Nippon Airways (ANA) offers direct flights from Heathrow to Tokyo Haneda from £823 for economy flights. Premium economy flights cost from £1,603 and business-class flights are available from £3,503. The airline operates 40 domestic routes from Tokyo, allowing visitors to stop over in the capital before travelling elsewhere in the country. ANA.CO.UK


AMA DIVER HUT, HACHIMAN, OSATU


A delicious, fresh-fish lunch cooked by Ama divers dressed in traditional costume. who dive


to depths of 20 metres every morning without using breathing apparatus. These sweet ladies take 10 years to become expert free-divers. It’s an occupation best suited to women because their higher levels of body fat allow them to spend up to 90 minutes in the cold water. They will even sing and dance for you while they dish up the catch of the day.


KARAOKE Big Echo karaoke is found all around Japan. There are individual rooms for those who prefer singing on their own, as well as bigger rooms


for groups. Be prepared to let your hair down and feel your inner Beyoncé shine through.


aspire september 2017 — 49


PHOTOS: FLORA IOANNOU


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