Words and Photography by Josh Magin
Forever influenced by Japanese food and design culture, we had long dreamed of travelling to the land of the rising sun. As soon as the borders opened to tourists, we booked our tickets and flew into the dense skyline of the capital.
Nothing prepares you for your first time in Tokyo. Jet-lag fades to the back of your mind, as all of your senses are overwhelmed. The cold night air hits you as the crowds move like rivers through streets filled with Sake bars. The smell of eel and smoke from hundreds of Yakitori vendors mix with the sound of Karaoke and Pachinko parlours, making you lose track of time completely. With all of this vibrancy, we easily found peace and tranquility in the many zen gardens and temples, whilst watching sumos practicing their art in the Beyas, and the patience of the sushi chefs as they prepare your Omakase.
Tokyo > Nikko > Hakone > Kyoto.
Impressive bullet trains carry you away from the city, across the diverse geography, and into towns full of healing waters. According to ancient Shintoism, Onsens contain mystical properties, and can be found in abundance throughout the prefecture. The modernist and contemporary style of much of Tokyos architecture and design, extends to the interior of Onsens, where clothing is not welcome, and locals practice their own spin on ‘Wimhof’, moving between ice baths, and [boiling] hot baths fuelled by volcanic activity.
Views of Fuji-San fade as you travel south.
Kyoto is refined and culturally rich; surrounded by mountains, and bisected by rivers which brought merchants to settle alongside samurai, buddhists and nobles. Here you can still find Geishas walking alongside Shinto’s and tourists, and traditional Japanese dramatic theatre [Kabuki] dating back to the early 1600’s is performed in grand buildings.
Kyoto > Nozawa Onsen > Tokyo
In the mountains the traditional way of life is infectious. Waking up to sunrise in your Ryokan prompts a trip to the nearest Onsen, then some raw egg with fish for breakfast with a carefully brewed coffee or warming Matcha. Sansi Soba at lunch when your body has cooled back down, and a rich bowl of ramen chased down with Sake to see off a day in the snow or walking a mountain trail.
And then, back to the 21st century at 200mph. Tokyo looms on the horizon and then surrounds you, expansive and exquisitely clean. To the airport with Japanese efficiency, and away… until next time