Travel Review: Enticing Tokyo

Experience the beauty and eccentricity of Japan’s capital city. Here are some of the things you need to know before travelling to Tokyo. 

The walk down Takeshita Street in Harajuku, Tokyo, is like no other. The mesmerising, vibrant colours fill every inch of space and the smell of freshly-cooked Japanese local cuisine lingers in the air, while groups of men and women walk past dressed as fairies and action men. The enchanting street is so fascinating, it’s difficult to know where to look first. It perfectly depicts and defines the true essence of Japanese culture. If you’re planning a trip to Japan then look no further!

Some girls in Harajuku

Tokyo is famous for being one of the priciest and quirkiest cities in the world. It is home to more than 37 million people and is renowned for its stylish balance between old and new. On the one hand, it offers serene and idyllic ancient temples, while on the other, it presents designer boutiques, pop culture and innovative technology.

A shrine near Mt Fuji

Tokyo boasts hot and humid summers and icy but sunny winters, so it can be a great place to visit at any time of the year. However, if you’re hoping to see the infamous Japanese cherry blossoms, then the end of March to the beginning of April is the best time to go.

Japan is renowned for its fantastic food, and you will certainly not be disappointed. The ramen and sushi in Japan might possibly be the best you’ll ever eat. It is so easy to find amazing food anywhere in Japan, as even the street food is excellent. However, for traditional Japanese food, with a stunning 14th floor view of Tokyo, head to Gonpachi restaurant in Shibuya. It is the perfect place for tourists to experience authentic Japanese cuisine and even sit at a floor table next to the window with an enchanting view.

In the lift on the way up to Gonpachi restaurant

Annabel Hudson grew up in Japan before moving back to England in 2011. Having spent eight years living there, she believes that the best advice she could give to somebody hoping to travel to Tokyo for the first time, would be “to get an English to Japanese dictionary and an English version of a map of each major area of Tokyo.” She also encourages researching before the trip to learn how the transport systems work and to learn basic Japanese etiquette. She said, “some things westerners do are extremely rude in Japanese culture so you must make sure you’re polite and respectful so people are polite and respectful to you.”

Train lines taken in Shirokane-takanawa station

In terms of shopping, Tokyo has plenty to offer. Marunouchi offers luxury shopping complexes, while Shibuya has many quirky stores. Don Quijote and Loft are stores situated in the heart of Shibuya and are brilliant for all things eccentric. From lobster hats to birthday cake hairbands, they have it all. Disney Resort is about a 15-minute train ride from central Tokyo station and it is a fantastic day trip for everyone, no matter how young or old. Another fun activity is to use a purikura machine. These are unique photo booths which allow you to change your eye/ hair colour or place stickers of your favourite Japanese characters on them. They are great fun and are the perfect souvenir to take home with you. For those who want to experience Japanese culture more, Tokyo Tower, which is designed like the Eiffel Tower, is another amazing landmark, as well as the famous Shibuya Crossing, which is the busiest crossing in the world.

Shibuya Crossing

“Visitors can get dressed-up in Japanese traditional clothes and slip back in time to 17th century Japan.”

Angus Miyaji spends half of his time living in Japan and the other half living in London. Having travelled a lot of Japan himself, Angus believes that there is something for everyone. If you are artistic, he highly recommends North Kanto, which is 1-3 hours north of Tokyo. He said, “North Kanto is rich in traditional crafts such as pottery, indigo dyeing, papermaking, woodcraft and metal casting.” As well as this, Edo Wonderland is a popular period-themed park in the town of Nikko. It is a fantastic destination for families as “visitors can get dressed-up in Japanese traditional clothes and slip back in time to 17th century Japan.” Angus said, “If you like nature, there are a few well-known flower gardens and many hot spring towns,” such as Yunishigawa and Kusatsu onsen.

From the striking traditional culture, to the unorthodox fashion, there are many reasons to visit the buzzing city of Tokyo. There are hundreds of ways to immerse yourself in Japanese culture so you’ll never be stuck for ideas of places to go in the land of the rising sun!

A typical Japanese street
Graph made using Piktochart

Veganism- Healthy or Trendy?

Becoming vegan not only helps saves the lives of animals, but also helps the environment. The last decade has seen a vast increase in the number of vegans in Britain 

Imagine your favourite meal. Fish and chips? Spaghetti Bolognese? Burgers? Whatever it is, there is a high chance that it has meat or animal products in it. It is easy to forget the simple pleasure that comes with eating fruit and vegetables, from the earthy smell of carrots and lettuce, to the vibrant, tantalising colours of strawberries and blueberries. Simply swapping minced beef with edamame and white kidney beans in a stew, will instantly add colour back into your food and can help to save the planet.

Veganism is becoming an increasingly popular lifestyle choice. The number of vegans in the UK has risen by 360% over the last ten years, and this figure continues to rise. But what is it that has caused such an influx in the number of people following a vegan lifestyle? Is there more accessibility to vegan produce, or are people simply becoming more aware of animal exploitation?


“The number of vegans in the UK has risen by 360% over the last ten years”

An example of a vegan meal

It could be argued that the rise of social media has greatly influenced people’s views and opinions on veganism. Bloggers with large followings are portraying the lifestyle as exciting and desirable, and are using their platforms to spread the word about the benefits of the lifestyle. People now associate veganism with colourful, fresh produce and improved health because of the vegan hashtag on Instagram and videos uploaded on to YouTube. Vegan YouTuber, Poppy Sansom, believes that social media has really helped veganism to grow in recent years as people are very influenced by what they see online. However, Poppy learnt from her own experience that going vegan for the right reason is very important. She said, “not knowing enough or doing enough research is why people don’t stick to veganism – if they knew all the scientific evidence that is out there then I believe they’d be much more likely to stick with it.” Poppy did her own research on why the vegan lifestyle is so beneficial and she has now been vegan for over a year and half.

Vegan sushi

For many years, veganism was burdened with some old stereotypes, but in the last decade, the diet has become widely associated with improving the lives of animals and the state of the planet, as well as boasting numerous health benefits to those who follow it. It is thanks to social media that people are now more aware of many of the other benefits of a vegan lifestyle. Spokesperson for The Vegan Society, Dominika Piasecka, feels that “the image of veganism is undergoing the most radical change in its history.” She believes that many vegans are “concerned with the huge impact that animal agriculture has on the environment” and states that a fourth benefit of a vegan lifestyle is that it helps to fight world hunger. She says, “3.5 billion humans could live off the food currently fed to farm animals,” and we “quite simply, do not have enough land to feed a growing population on an animal-based diet.”

According to statistics, it seems that the health benefits of a vegan lifestyle are undeniably positive. However, nutritionist, Julia Taylor does not think that such an extreme dietary commitment is necessary to live a healthy, balanced lifestyle. She believes rather, that veganism is simply “on trend” and that “newspaper articles are often biased.” It is believed that some people have adopted the vegan lifestyle after the revelation in 2015 that red meats have been linked to cancer. Although there is evidence to suggest that high consumption of processed meat can be associated with cancer, Julia feels that there is no problem with eating “moderate quantities of well-sourced, grass-fed, good-quality meat.” Julia also said that, “the availability of vegan food in supermarkets is just due to trend- rather than the other way around (as) supermarkets are masters of their client base.”

A healthy, balanced vegan meal

Social media has undoubtedly played a huge role in the rise of veganism in the last decade. It is difficult to decide whether this has been completely positive for the vegan community. While veganism continues to grow in popularity, it is highly likely that many people opting into this lifestyle in recent years, have done so because it is fashionable and trendy, or because of societal pressures online. If people have not chosen the lifestyle for the correct reasons, it is possible that a few years down the line the number of vegans could start to decrease again. However, veganism is now being shown in a much more positive light than in previous years which can only be encouraging for the community.

Mental Health Epidemic hits young people in the UK

Some experts believe that the mental health of young people in Britain today is in crisis. Along with the rise of social media and societal pressures on young people, has come the rise of serious mental illness in the UK.

Mental health is complex and cannot easily be explained. It can be both heart and mind-breaking. Depression can make you feel purposeless, emotionless and insignificant, like life is just a monotonous cycle of childhood, adolescence, adulthood, retirement and then death. In your darkest and loneliest nights, depression engulfs the brain and poses the question, ‘if life is so pointless, why wait 60 years to die? – Just aimlessly ambling through life with no ambitions or motivation to achieve anything along the way. Depression has the control to brainwash and encapsulate the mind, and can change the person you believe yourself to be, leaving you at a total loss of who you really are. It can destroy relationships and friendships, and along with them, any hope of finding a purpose in life.

“‘ ChildLine reported over 50,000 cases of children and young people turning to them for support with serious mental health problems”

On the most part, it is believed that young people’s lives are improving. A record number of young people are being accepted into universities every year, and teen pregnancy rates are the lowest they have been in nearly half a century. However, despite this, the number of young people suffering from mental illness is rapidly increasing. Last year, ChildLine reported over 50,000 cases of children and young people turning to them for support with serious mental health problems – a rise of 8% over the last four years. So, what is it that is causing such an increase in mental illness amongst young people?

Research conducted by the department of Health and Human Services in 2015, showed that rates of depression amongst girls, is more than double that of boys. This may be down to the fact that cyber-bullying is much more prevalent within groups of girls, which leads us to conclude that social media could be to blame for the current mental health epidemic. Many school teachers claim to have noticed malicious behaviour via social media sites like Instagram, and have observed an influx in the number of children self-harming and suffering from issues like anxiety as a likely result of this. Teen counsellor, Natalie Trowell believes that “young people are exposed to unrealistic body image” and “a warped version of life” on social media and this can create an unsafe environment. She feels that “young people are almost encouraged to share everything online, but then leave themselves open to criticism,” which can significantly contribute to body insecurities and mental health issues.

However, some experts believe that the increase in mental health problems in the UK is not due to a fault within society but is rather that doctors have started to over-diagnose patients, so it is much easier to ‘qualify’ for a mental illness now than it has been in the past. Over-diagnosis and unnecessary medicating can actually have adverse effects. Research has shown that with a variety of anti-depressant drugs, medicating patients unnecessarily can cause them to become chronically ill in the long term, further fuelling the mental health outbreak.

But why are doctors over-diagnosing people? In recent years, the stigma attached to discussing the topic of mental health issues has significantly decreased, and it is now seen as a much less taboo subject than it was even ten years ago. With celebrities such as Steven Fry, Carrie Fisher and Kate Middleton speaking openly about mental illness, there is a much greater awareness than there ever used to be, and so young people can feel more at ease speaking about it. This implies that mental illness is not necessarily more common than it used to be, but more people are seeking help as they are less afraid to speak out.

However, Mental Health Social Worker, Jacqueline Milligan, believes that the most frequent issues are “related to a person’s development and if they have experienced trauma in their early years.” This suggests that the root cause of the issue stems from a time before social media has become so prevalent in a person’s life. She feels it also depends on “the young person’s coping skills and ability to deal with stress during exams or with relationships,” which could be down to genetic reasons.


Dr Nihara Krause, Clinical Psychologist and Founder of Stem4, believes that there are a vast range of vulnerability factors which can affect a person’s mental health including “genetic, biological, trauma related, personality, brain development and physical factors, familial factors and cultural factors, including youth culture and environmental factors which include acute stress.” Taking these factors into consideration, it seems that mental illness can be triggered by so many different factors, no matter how vast or minute, so we simply cannot pin the blame on one particular variable.