A monk staring into the clouds from the summit of the sacred Ishizuchi mountain in Japan.

Hiking up a sacred summit of Shikoku: Mount Ishizuchi-san

Article updated on May 11, 2020
Text & photos: Marcella van Alphen & Claire Lessiau

A mountain so sacred that for centuries only men were allowed to summit it… Ishizuchi san, the highest mountain of Shikoku and Western Japan remains a very important place of worship and one of the major centres of Shugendō, a sect in-between Shintoism and Buddhism. Many pilgrims climb this mountain that still is forbidden for women every July 1, the first day of the climbing season. Whether you are an avid hiker, curious to see what a place so sacred looks like, there to take in the stunning views, or just up for a challenge, hiking up the sacred Mount Ishizuchi will leave you breathless – literally. Keep hiking!

Road trip on the island of Shikoku, Japan

Article updated on May 25, 2020
Text & photos: Claire Lessiau & Marcella van Alphen


While the Japanese train system is excellent and allows to explore most of the country, driving is essential to explore Shikoku, the remote and off-the-beaten path island of Japan, where public transportation is less developed.

The road from Yawatahama, where the ferry from Kyushu lands, to Matsuyama is squeezed between the turquoise waters of the Seto Inland Sea Keep travelling!

Ancient tradition of cormorants fishing (ukai) in Japan: fishermen and cormorants by night.

Cormorant-fishing (ukai) in Shikoku: witnessing a rare tradition

Article updated on May 11, 2020
Text & photos: Claire Lessiau & Marcella van Alphen

The setting sun colours the isles of the Inland Sea as we drive along the northern coastline of the off-the-beaten-path island of Shikoku in Japan. The close-by village of Ozu is one of the rare places where the ancient tradition of cormorant fishing still takes place, on the Hijikawa River. This way of fishing, Keep travelling!

A group of Japanese kids wearing the traditional outfit chats during the Hakata Gion Yamakasa festival in Fukuoka, Kyushu

Spectacular festivals of Japan: The Hakata Gion Yamakasa, Fukuoka & more

Article updated on May 15, 2020
Text & photos: Marcella van Alphen & Claire Lessiau

From Hokkaido to Okinawa, festivals are very important in Japan. In a very fast-paced and ultra-modern country, they are an integrant part of keeping ancient traditions alive and passing them on to younger generations. If they take place throughout the year, the best moment to witness most of them is the summer. Be warned: some are so popular that they make travelling and staying in the hosting cities difficult. Keep travelling!