Need backpacker insurance? Save money with this World Nomads Promotional Code!
One traveller's day-by-day account of a year-long journey through Japan, China, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Malaysia, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, America and Canada

train buzzed past us. We observed the little floating houses on the moat that were made for the resident swans.

We made our way to the hostel we had booked in the hot spring area of the city. It was an amazing environmentally friendly place, complete with solar panels, recycling centres, a small farm, energy saving lights and vending machines powered down by default and whirred into life as you approached, scaring the living shit out of you, and even a free course intruigingly entitled something like "latent ability and potential workshop". We had one huge room between 5 lined with tatami mats, and a private toilet (thankfully, Western style, not a Japanese squatter). Best of all there was a low table in the middle of the room with duvets attached and a heater under the table. We very quickly got comfy and only hunger persuaded us to venture out onto the cold. Our options were limited in the area, and after we were turned away from a couple of places closing, we settled for a Ramen noodles establishment, after stopping to admire a huge old bathhouse that Emma remarked looked like the one from 'Spirited Away'.

We spent the meal cross-examining a Japanese news programme on in the restaurant. the news was pretty thin on the ground, reflecting Japan's low crime rate, but we