In April, Sarah was lucky enough to take the trip of a lifetime to the beautiful country of Japan. Writing with a severe case of the holiday blues here's her best bits...
'I've always wanted to visit Japan to explore its national parks, wildlife, Edo period architecture and of course the sweeping metropolis of Tokyo. Though we enjoyed the larger cities of Tokyo and Kyoto it was the vast and beautiful countryside that really caught us. We climbed mountains, avoided bears, drank sake, rarely knew what it was we were ordering (or eating!) and met some of the warmest and most hospitable people we have ever had the privilege of meeting.'
Above: all photos taken in and around the Nikko national Park. (easily accessed by train from Tokyo within 3 hours but make the most of it and stay the night in a traditional Ryokan guest house)
From top left: Five story pagoda, Nikko / Futarasan Shrine, Nikko / Restored Edo period housing, Tsumago, Kiso Valley / Shinkyo Bridge, Nikko
From top left: Bird spotting in Magome, Kiso Valley / Beautiful spring cherry blossom, Tokyo / Hand painted screens in our Ryokan (Japanese style guest house) on the Island of Naoshima / The view from our riverside hostel in Nikko national park
'By far the highlight of the trip for me, the beautiful island of Naoshima. Dubbed 'Art Island' it is covered in land sculptures and installations, like the giant pumpkin by artist Yayoi Kusama. If like me you are partial to a bit of polished concrete don't miss Benesse House, a beautiful building housing some of the best names in contemporary art. The island is also home to a fantastic public bath (photo top left), designed by artist Shinro Ohtake the male and female sections of the 'Naoshima Bath I♥湯' are divided by a giant elephant statue!
Overall Japan, you have warmed our hearts and changed us for the better.
We will be back!'