Last year our Brisbane-based photographer, Ian, returned with breathtaking footage from Tokyo and Kyoto. Tourism Media scriptwriter Johnny was so inspired by what he saw, he jumped straight online to Expedia’s website and booked three plane tickets to Japan.

Seven months later, Johnny and his two daughters have returned from a sixteen-day adventure, which took place in Osaka, Kyoto, the rural villages around Miyama, and Tokyo.

The cherry blossoms came into glorious bloom the day after their arrival in Osaka. “I’d heard travellers wax lyrical about the cherry blossoms, and I know they occupy a very special place in the Japanese psyche, but nothing can really prepare you for the experience.” Johnny says, “it was like being swept up by an immense wave of delicate beauty”, and he admitted to shedding “a tear or two”.

Johnny was equally moved by the kindness of the Japanese people he encountered in his travels. “I’ve travelled the world”, he said, “but I’ve never encountered the level of politeness, respect and generosity we experienced in Japan. In Kyoto, Johnny met up with Tourism Media’s Kyoto-based photographer, Akiko Morita, who spent two days showing the visitors her hometown. “ Akiko was the best guide imaginable,” said Johnny, “She took us to many of the major shrines such as Fushimi Inari-taisha and the Golden Temple, but she also showed us lots of secret, quiet places too, where we’d often be the only visitors.”

Travelling with teenagers is sometimes challenging, and it’s easy for youngsters to develop temple fatigue. On a number of occasions, Akiko took the girls off exploring so Johnny could indulge in some Zen-time at the various temples and raked gardens they visited. “My daughters fell in love with Akiko”, said Johnny, “especially after she took the two cat-crazy teenagers to a local cat café”.

When pressed for his number one highlight of the trip, Johnny said it was seeing his daughter’s eyes open up to the world. His eldest daughter was particularly impressed by the warmth of the rural communities they visited and hopes to return for a gap year once she completes high school. “That’s what travelling’s all about”, says John, “discovering exciting paths to new possibilities, and in Japan we found no shortage of those!”