Welcome to STORIED...
Think. Type. Read. Think. Delete. Start again.
I so wanted this, my love letter to Japan, to be perfect. But perfection is so personal, so subjective, an ever-changing goal. In fact, if Japan has taught me anything, it’s that the journey to perfection - the mistakes, the cracks, the hard work, and the perseverance - are the true virtues to be celebrated. And so, this is my celebration; STORIED, an ode to the place I call home. Japan.
There are two things in this world that I am passionate about above all else: words and travel. The love for the former passed on by my pedant of a father and the love for the latter a joint effort handed down from the both of my parents. We, my sister and I, were always encouraged to seek out new experiences and places, both of us taking our parents’ words a little too literally when, as adults, we settled almost as far away from the UK as we could get, she in Australia and I here in Kyoto. I often think back to that little girl following my parents wide-eyed into foreign lands, unlocking new ways of seeing the world, ways that have informed my approach to travel and my sense of self. Ways that had me dreaming of far-off lands and ways that ultimately brought me here, writing this letter to you, putting together the pages of STORIED, my next adventure.
In this, our internet age, endless streams of articles are mindlessly thrown together without a second thought for the stories they tell or, even worse, the ones they do not; one-time travellers pen ‘insider guides’ and viral videos perpetuate stereotypes – I couldn’t think of anything I wanted less for STORIED. I relish a good read, a captivating anecdote, tales of discovery, and real recommendations regaled by those who live by them. This is STORIED. Intimate narratives from people who know Japan, delving deeply and broadly to bring tales of daily life and historic legacies, modern culture and natural beauty.
Japan is a place that is often misunderstood; yet it is no longer the land of myth and mystery that it once was thought to be by outside travellers. An enigma, half hidden yet in the spotlight, the tourists, both domestic and foreign, which until earlier this year arrived in droves, heading to predetermined hotspots, all but ignoring the wider beauty of such a splendid archipelago. It seems like everyone is following the same itinerary, steered by media that churns out the same old content. Kyoto, in particular, is suffering from the effects of overtourism. And so it is with a conscientious heart and my own yearning to share truly new and intriguing insights into Japan, that I bring you my vision of what makes this country so spectacular.
For the launch of STORIED I was determined to include lesser-explored locales. We spent days in Shiga searching for art amongst the mountains; visiting one of Japan’s oldest ceramics-producing towns; and circumnavigating the country’s largest lake, looking for secluded spots to sit and watch rust-bitten fishing boats bob atop a vast, sea-like surface. We interviewed Erika Harada Vos about her month-long cycling tour of the Ohenro, Shikoku's 88 temple pilgrimage, which crosses all the island's prefectures. She told us about eating local delicacies, sheltering during a typhoon, and hearing nostalgic stories from locals, shared over steaming cups of sencha.
Beyond travel, we chatted with Prairie Stuart-Wolff about the intoxicating fragrance of Japan’s most famous citrus, yuzu and learnt from Noriko Kawamura about the art of kintsugi, the repairing of broken ceramics (amongst other things) with lacquer and gold powder and we hope our stories stir in you a longing to travel to see these wild and varied lands.
Japan has long since fallen fate to its own beauty, with sightseers storming certain areas and attractions, there is however, an endless stream of surprises still poised to be uncovered. A lifetime’s endeavour and one that I am so pleased to pursue in STORIED.
Dad, thank you for your love of words, possibly even more so for your love of travel. An inspiration to me from the moment I could talk, to this day still. STORIED is a collection of tales I know you would have loved to read, I only hope that they could have brought you as much joy as those bygone days of perusing the dictionary. I wish you could have seen firsthand my life in Japan, but I know you’ll be reading fervently from wherever you are.
Rachel E T Davies