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Japan – A Tale Of Two Jungles


Japan was the most incredible experience; from its rural beauty to its urban charm, I found inspiration in the most unexpected places. No matter where you look there are patterns, symbols and stories to be told. It’s a truly fascinating culture and I adored every minute spent there. It was only a short visit but with the help of an incredible itinerary and invaluable advice from Wix Squaredwe focused on Tokyo and Kyoto and came away with a real insight into this charming country. We left desperate to go back…

The love list is endless but for me the traditions that are still practiced today; the gentle people, exquisite gardens, bamboo jungles and all the iconic sights such as Mount Fuji, the lakes and shrines are speculator. Japan has so much natural beauty on offer and we only just scratched the surface.



In stark contrast are Japan’s captivating cities where every inch of space in every building is filled. You stumble across the tiniest, quirkiest bars and restaurants in the most unlikely places. There is so much life and fun in all these nooks and crannies that even if you lived there for 20 years, it would still be impossible to visit every bar and restaurant, there are millions!



Coming from a design background I was excited to learn about tradition; how people decorate their homes, how they dress. There is colour, pattern and print everywhere be it on parasols, fans, kimonos (there are still many women walking around wearing these) or the crockery. Pattern in design is everywhere.



We were lucky enough to stay in a Ryokan (a traditional Japanese inn) in Hakone close to Mount Fuji and experienced a tea ceremony and kimono fitting at Tondaya in Kyoto which were two massive highlights.

In total contrast to their elaborate and colourful lifestyle accessories, Japanese homes are kept very plain which at first surprised me but I soon fell in love with the pure, simplistic beauty. Traditional houses are made from bamboo and wood, with Tatami mats (made of rice straw) covering the floors and paper used for the shutters. It’s the accessories that are exquisite such as lanterns, black lacquer and mother of pearl tables and beautiful embroidered silk screens that are works of art. It’s fascinating to compare the interiors world between nations especially coming from a wallpaper background and seeing that Japanese people don’t use any! The temples, shrines and palaces are adorned with beautiful wall murals but in domestic living, it’s the accessories that make a house their home.




Rural Japan is beautiful. You see the natural habitat in all forms of design with owls for good luck, cranes and turtles are a symbol of long life and their fans are adorned with bonsai trees and blossoms.

One of my favourite moments of the whole trip was visiting the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove in Kyoto.  It was like stepping into a different world.  The walkway through the forest, shrouded with a dried grass and bamboo fence is only 100 meters long but the forest stretches either side for what seems like miles and miles when in fact it is only a kilometer wide.  





It was raining at the time which almost enhanced the stillness and silence of the jungle as you could hear every single rain drop.  The bamboo was immaculately straight, vertical and every shade of green you can imagine. We went early and were lucky enough to capture a moment alone before the crowds arrived which was very special as the atmosphere changed as soon as other tourists started to flood in.

Bamboo is everywhere from fencing to furniture to the scaffolding – it is all made from bamboo and no wonder either, as it’s a symbol of prosperity in Japan.




I touched on Japan’s cities above but the most memorable experience for me was the Golden Gai in Tokyo.  To me it completely summarised Japanese culture. It’s an architectural wonder of 6 tiny alleys (much too narrow to get even a small car down) lined with lanterns, tucked away in hidden streets behind the hustle and bustle of Tokyo.  Consisting of nearly 200 miniature bars that can each only sit 4-6 people maximum, the area is full of so much charm, history and wonder, you could spend weeks just there alone!

Behind every tiny door is a completely different world and experience. Below are some images to give you an insight….




I am so grateful to have visited this incredible country and to have been inspired by it’s deep culture. I will certainly return one day, as there is so much more to explore but in the mean time, I have hundreds of beautiful images and memories. Maybe one day my inspirational time here might turn into a new wallpaper a fabric collection….. who knows!



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