Postcards from Japan: Smelling Japanese autumn, story-telling souvenirs and "the next best thing to being there" with Axel Deroubaix

Nothing says 'I've been to Japan' like buying a new suitcase while you're out there to help carry all the souvenirs you bought for the whole family, and the wacky kit kat flavours you're gifting to everyone in the office. Maybe you're planning your first trip right now, and gazing longingly at the souvenir your friend brought you back from their trip!

If any of this applies to you then listen close - Axel Deroubaix, a Frenchman residing in Japan has come up with a fantastic way of bringing Japan to us, whilst we still can't go to Japan quite yet...

Postcards from Japan: Sun-splashed Kagoshima, working for the Shimadzu clan and how to find silver linings with Alex Bradshaw

When it comes to culturally rich destinations with a wealth of scenic vistas and sun-splashed landscapes, Kagoshima maybe takes the cake. It's also home to one of the most interesting Japanese stately homes and gardens, Sengan-en, which still remains in the hands of its original owners - the Shimadzu clan. Alex Bradshaw has spent well over a decade working closely with them and has built a life in Kagoshima, far far away from the Yorkshire hills of Sheffield, where he was born. He shares his top tips and thoughts on why the area is so special.

Postcards from Japan: the man behind the 'matsuri', the most unmissable local festivals and finding 'ikigai' in ancient Japanese traditions with Nobuya Miyata

Japanese 'matsuri' festivals happen all year round but summer is particularly famous for its explosions of vibrant energy, especially in the Tohoku region. This year the majority of festivals have moved online to help keep communities connected at a socially distant time but that has meant that the 'mikoshi' portable shrine, which usually leads the processions, has taken a bit of a time out. 'Mikoshi' repairman Nobuya Miyata comes from strong 'matsuri' stock and even had a documentary made about him - we can see why! 



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