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The model, filmmaker, activist and columnist for InStyle UK takes us on a trip back to her native Japan.

Japan is a nation of tradition, wonder and mystery, and I feel fortunate to call it one of my many homes. I was born in Japan, and lived there until moving to Europe as a teenager for school.

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Later on, after staying in New York for four years, I found myself faced with the heartbreaking decision of having to move to London for work. As my job meant I was constantly on the move, it had proved difficult to find time to revisit Japan. But my homesickness for Nippon had reached boiling point. And so, as the New York chapter of my life drew to a close, a month in Japan seemed like a beautiful way to celebrate; a moment to reconnect with my roots, my family and my native tongue before moving to pastures new.

I was a little nervous though. My family are conservative, and my life doesn’t really conform to their status quo. I’d also left Japan just after my father passed away, so going back can stir a certain kind of melancholy; but this was another good reason to visit – a reminder of the times we shared.

I was lucky to have my besties Samantha and Linda come with me, as I rarely see them any more. Sharing the trip with them was super-fun, and their love and support saw me through some bittersweet emotions.

We packed as much as possible into the journey. I didn’t travel a lot as a child, so it felt like my chance to explore the country. In Tokyo we indulged our inner-child and visited Puroland, the insane Hello Kitty theme park, where we became the most hyper versions of ourselves. We lost ourselves wandering through the narrow alleyways and serene temples of Gion in Kyoto, before floating down the picturesque Kamo River. We ate six kinds of Okonomiyaki [savoury pancakes] and sipped broth as we ventured through Osaka. This city is to Tokyo what Manchester is to London, its warm-hearted northern hospitality makes you feel like you’re family.

We travelled to Naoshima, Japan’s very own art island – a truly special experience. With no cars and very little phone signal, you have to bike everywhere, and there’s no option but to get involved. We also took a boat to the neighbouring island of Teshima which has an unmissable museum formed from a single 25cm-thick concrete shell. I could have stayed there forever.

Japan will never stop being special to me. I’m always happy to arrive there and sad to leave. Some little part of me clicks into place when I step off the plane. I savour every moment, every taste and every sound. I can already hear it calling me back.

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