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Why We Should All Visit Places of Political Importance Abroad

Hiroshima peace park

When you travel to a new destination, what do you want to see? Nature at its finest, incredible cityscapes, traditional ways of living, maybe some local art? Travel makes me happy and experiencing the unknown is always where I'd rather be, but what about experiencing the cold hard truth about the history of the country you're in? To be a well-behaved tourist and an ethical global citizen, I believe it is my responsibility to know the background of where I am, even if it makes for an uncomfortable visit.

Visiting the Floating Torii Gate of Miyajima, Japan

Floating Torii Gate of Miyajima, Japan

Prior to visiting Japan, I didn't know the name of the island that is home to the famous floating shrine. Rather like my visit to Himeji Castle, I knew the emoji symbol and the fact it looked pretty in photos, but it was only with some research that I realised it would be feasible to visit it on a day trip from Osaka, and that the island it lives on is called Itsukushima, but is commonly known as Miyajima.

How to Spend 24 Hours in Osaka, Japan

Neon running man sign, Dotonbori, Osaka

Before heading to Japan, I was told by everyone who'd been before me that Osaka was their least favourite city, but within moments of being there myself, I knew I'd disagree with them all. OK, it's not the huge bustling, modern metropolis that Tokyo is, or has the history of Kyoto, but it is vibrant, friendly, and it's wonderfully easy to lose yourself in its warren-like streets.

Seven Things British Transport Could Learn From Japan Rail

Shinkansen N700 bullet train

When my friends and I were planning our trip to Japan, we knew we wanted to cram in as many places as possible within our two-week itinerary. Bullet trains are synonymous with the Land of the Rising Sun, and it was the obvious way to travel so that we could see as much of the country whizzing by as possible as well as tell people how fast they are (my ears popped and I felt dizzy on our first one, so BIG TICK there!).

Eating Kobe Beef in Japan at Wakkoqu, Kobe

Kobe beef being cooked

As much as a country may be well known for certain dishes, if you dig a little deeper, you'll always find regional specialities that locals are super proud of. Here in the UK we have exactly that, from Yorkshire puddings to Cornish pasties, but the legend of Kobe beef was a whole new foodie step for me. I'm a street food hunter; a dingy side-alley-restaurant-with-questionable-hygiene dweller. I've been known to dress up and splash out, of course, but this is the first time I've allocated a chunk of my holiday budget to a specific meal.

A Day at Himeji Castle, Japan

Himeji Castle, Japan

Himeji Castle has a lot to answer for. Its iconic structure and shape has been the blueprint for literally hundreds of imitation buildings across Japan and the world. You might not know it by name, but I bet that as soon as you see it, you know it. Or at least have referred to the emoji it's influenced as 'that Japanese castle'. And to be honest, if it's famous enough to have its own emoji, well, consider me in. I realised it was only an hour away from Osaka, my first stop in Japan, and as I had a day to kill before the rest of my travel buddies arrived, it became cemented into my itinerary.
As of 20th November 2014, any products marked with an asterisk (*) have been provided as a sample for unbiased review