Journeys in Japan Season 6

Season 6

Journeys in Japan Season 6

First Air Date: February 10, 2015

First Aired on    :   2015
Episodes    :   35 episodes



Episodes

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6x35 Akita Autumn Feast (December 22, 2015)


Akita Prefecture is located 450 kilometers north of Tokyo. American actor Charles Glover visits the northern land in late autumn when local people are busy preparing for the long winter. Being one of Japan's snowiest regions and one of the top production centers of sake, Akita has developed a tradition of enjoying the long winter nights with friends in neighborhood bars and restaurants. Evenings are warmed with the camaraderie, fine sake, and cuisine that is heavy on the blessings of the sea. Our traveler Charles Glover enjoys to his heart's content the singular culture of the land of snow, Akita, which unfolds in late autumn.


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6x34 Ishigaki: Diving in the Sea of Coral (December 15, 2015)


Ishigaki Island-surrounded by beautiful coral reefs-is considered one of the world's best diving spots. In 2007, though, its corals were damaged to the brink of extinction due to the rise of sea temperatures caused by global warming. This became a turning point for the locals to reassess their traditional half-farming and half-fishing lifestyle, which is closely linked to the sea. Many people became involved in conserving the coral reefs. On Journeys in Japan, our camera plunges into the waters off Ishigaki and gets up close to one of the world's largest coral colonies and marine life, including courting manta rays. We also explore the lifestyle of the islanders who coexist with the ocean. Our reporter is British diver Bonnie Waycott, a resident of Japan for ten years. Bonnie works in broadcast media, and also writes for diving magazines. She gets to report from the field and from underwater!


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6x33 Nara & Yagyu: On the Road to the Sword of Peace (December 08, 2015)


Yagyu, which is located just outside Nara, is the ancestral home of the Yagyu family, which established Yagyu Shinkage-ryu. This sword art school was adopted by the Tokugawa Shogunate for its defense strategy. Its core philosophy-the sword of peace-had enormous influence on the shogun, ushering in an era of peace that lasted for 250 years during the Edo period. On Journeys in Japan, Stephen Nagy visits the area. The scholar, specializing in international relations of Northeast Asia, is a martial arts master, who holds a fourth dan grade in Kendo and fifth dan in Aikido. He'll discover the philosophy behind Yagyu Shinkage-ryu's "sword of peace."


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6x32 Artisans and Beauty: Koshu, Yamanashi (December 01, 2015)


Koshu is the former name for Yamanashi Prefecture. In feudal times, it was the base for the powerful Takeda warlords and many traditional crafts date back to that era. Koshu Inden is a way of decorating deerskin with designs in lacquer. Fine washi paper is used for calligraphy. And nishikigoi (varicolored carp) are often considered living artworks. Woodblock print artist David Bull visits the Koshu area to discover this world of natural beauty and artisan skill.


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6x31 Takayama & Furukawa: Treasuring Traditions (November 24, 2015)


The Takayama Festival, in autumn, is held annually on October 9th and 10th. The stars of the festival are the spectacularly adorned floats, called "yatai." They are paraded through the city with some featuring live Ohayashi festival music and another a puppet show using mechanical dolls. Kit Pancoast Nagamura visits people who are involved in preserving traditions related to the floats. Over in the nearby town of Hida-Furukawa, she joins a cycling tour to observe rural life, and tastes Japanese sake brewed by an American.


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6x30 Adventures In WonderLand: Iya, Tokushima (November 17, 2015)


The Iya Valley is a land of legends hidden in Tokushima Prefecture, deep in the heart of Shikoku. Surrounded by mountains rising to over 1,000 meters, it is a remote Shangri-la that was cut off from outside world for centuries. This gives it a mysterious feeling that is unique in Japan. On this edition of Journeys in Japan, British fashion model Sapphira makes her way deep into the mountains to Iya, and finds herself in a world of mystery and legends.


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6x29 Mt. Tsurugi: Attacking the Palace of Crags (November 10, 2015)


Mt. Tsurugi in Toyama Prefecture is one of the most impressive peaks in Japan's Northern Alps range, rising to a height of 2,999 meters. Because of its jagged appearance it is often called the "Palace of Crags". On this edition of Journeys in Japan, Cveto leads the way through beautiful autumnal scenery. He explores sites that bear testimony to Japan's modern industrial history. And he overcomes setbacks to finally scale the "Palace of Crags" — the summit of Mt. Tsurugi.


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6x28 Kingdom of Apples: Tsugaru, Aomori (November 03, 2015)


About 145 years ago, apple tree saplings were imported to Japan and distributed around the country. The place where apple growing put down its strongest roots was in the Tsugaru area of Aomori Prefecture — and now it boasts the largest apple crop in Japan. John Moore travels to Tsugaru during the apple harvest, to meet the local people whose lives are so deeply entwined with the fruit. He learns about the history of apple growing and the hard work involved. And he finds out why this area has come to be known as the Kingdom of Apples.


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6x27 Iiyama: The Landscape of the Heart (October 27, 2015)


Iiyama City, located in northern Nagano Prefecture, is known for its beautiful nature and distinct four seasons. The rich landscape is nourished by snowmelt—Iiyama is one of the snowiest regions in the world. There are about 80 farmhouse lodgings in Iiyama where guests can experience a traditional way of life. They can also enjoy cooking local cuisine and farm work. The city developed around Iiyama Castle. Visitors can explore its ruins. With more than 20 Buddhist temples, the area is also known the "Snow Country's Little Kyoto." The atmospheric has many shops dealing the region's traditional Buddhist altars called "Iiyama Butsudan." It also has excellent museums.


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6x26 Kameyama, Mie: Living in the Present, Preserving the Past (October 13, 2015)


Kameyama lies in the north of Mie Prefecture. In the past, it had great strategic importance, as it lay on the Tokaido, the main highway connecting eastern and western Japan. Three old post towns are located within the city, and visitors can find many reminders of the past. The post town of Seki-juku has still about 200 houses dating back over a century, lining the road for some two kilometers. In Kameyama-juku, the culture of the samurai warriors is still kept alive. And Sakashita-juku was located just before the old highway entered Suzuka Pass, one of the most difficult sections on the route. On this edition of Journeys in Japan, Estella Mak explores these post towns, where the past has been preserved to the present day.


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6x25 Savoring Rural Pleasures: Daigo, Ibaraki (September 29, 2015)


The town of Daigo is in northwestern Ibaraki Prefecture, about 130 kilometers north of Tokyo. This attractive rural area is easily accessible from Tokyo, but preserves a traditional lifestyle based on sustainable farming and fishing. Nature is at the heart of all that Daigo has to offer. Our traveler John Daub even experiences the power of the falling water at Tsukimachi Falls, just like ancient monks who underwent ascetic training here. John also encounters local people who engage in nature conservation on his hike up Mt. Yamiso.


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6x24 The Thrilling Nebuta Festival (September 22, 2015)


The Nebuta Festival attracts some three million visitors to Aomori City every August. Nebuta are giant lantern floats measuring five meters high and nine meters wide. They often depict scenes from legends and Kabuki stories in vivid, 3-D forms. The floats illuminating the summer night skies are an utterly magnificent sight, so much so that they're also called "Art of Light." Michael Rivas, who’s from Hawaii, discovers the Nebuta Festival. He gets up close to the huge floats and also dances in the parade with people he meets in Aomori.


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6x23 Bullfighting in Uwajima: Passion and Tradition (September 08, 2015)


Uwajima is a traditional castle town in Ehime Prefecture. The people there have a long tradition of bullfighting. Huge bulls weighing about a ton battle each other for supremacy in the ring. Close bonds develop between the people and their bulls. Kyle Card meets the local people and discovers their passion for bullfighting.


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6x22 Kikaijima: Life on a Coral Island (August 25, 2015)


Kikaijima is a coral island in the far south of Kagoshima Prefecture, about 1,300 kilometers from Tokyo. It has a circumference of 48.6 kilometers and a population of about 7,200. Surrounded by cobalt-blue sea filled with colorful coral, the island boasts a rich natural environment, with trees that are several hundred years old. Because no major resorts have been developed on Kikaijima, it remains quite unspoiled. And the slow, natural pace of life seems little changed from the old days. On this edition of Journey in Japan, actress/musician Ananda Jacobs explores the island, meets the people and starts to discover the secret of their contentment.


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6x21 The Sacred Kumano Kodo: Kii Peninsula (August 18, 2015)


The mountainous Kii Hanto is Japan's largest peninsula. It holds sacred places of faiths, including Shintoism, Buddhism, and Shugendo mountain ascetism. In 2004, three sacred sites in the Kii Peninsula and pilgrimage routes linking these to the ancient capitals of Nara and Kyoto were listed collectively as a World Heritage site. Our traveler is professional shakuhachi flute player, John Kaizan Neptune. He enjoys trekking along one of the Kumano Kodo Pilgrimage Routes and meets residents of the sacred land. On his journey through majestic scenery, John Kaizan Neptune learns the wisdom of the Japanese who have strong ties with nature.


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6x20 Biei, Hokkaido: Layers of Beauty in the Patchwork Hills (August 11, 2015)


The town of Biei lies in the heart of Hokkaido, cradled by the magnificent peaks of Mount Tokachi. Surrounded by a colorful patchwork of fields and woodlands, it boasts an idyllic scenery that draws visitors from near and far. The patchwork effect is created by the colors of the various crops — potato, wheat, soybeans and the other plants grown here each season. Over the years, many people have come to Biei to photograph this enchanting landscape. Sebastian Angel is a professional photographer from Colombia, who is keen to capture the scenery of Biei.


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6x19 Shakotan Blue: The Ocean's Beauty and Bounty (August 04, 2015)


The Shakotan Peninsula lies on the west coast of Hokkaido, jutting out into the Sea of Japan. Its rugged coastline is lined with steep cliffs eroded by the waves. Many parts of this scenic peninsula have been designated as part of the Niseko-Shakotan-Otaru Kaigan Quasi-National Park. US radio journalist John Matthews discovers the peninsula both on land and by sea.


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6x18 Izu & Odawara : The Senses of Summer (July 28, 2015)


Since ancient times, Japanese have developed clever methods for keeping cool in summertime by using nature and the five senses. It's called noryo. On this trip, Deborah Ten visits Odawara and the Izu Peninsula, which are famous resort areas close to Tokyo. She gets acquainted with traditional wisdom and aesthetics to keep cool on hot summer days. She tastes chilled tokoroten seaweed noodles, hears wind chimes, listens to a stream outside her room in a traditional inn, touches cooling water, and sees magical Fireflies. Deborah, who grew up in Malaysia, discovers old ways to celebrate summer.


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6x17 Morioka: Celebrating a Culture of People and Horses (July 21, 2015)


Morioka developed as a castle town, the seat of the powerful Nanbu clan during the Edo Period [17th-19th centuries]. Even today, the city has many areas of historical interest, with numerous temples and traditional merchant houses that have survived. Every year in early summer, a very distinctive event is held in Morioka. Called the Chagu Chagu Umako festival, it originated as an expression of appreciation for the hard work done by farm horses. As many as 100 horses take part in a parade through the streets, adorned with colorful costumes and numerous jingling bells. The close relationship between farmers and their horses led to the development of traditional farmhouses known as Nanbu magariya. These houses have two wings, one for the people and the other for the horses, so they can all live under the same roof.


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6x16 Hokkaido: The Sacred Sounds of the Ainu (July 14, 2015)


Hokkaido — the northernmost island of Japan — is known for its vast expanse of land and unspoiled nature. American shakuhachi player, Bruce Huebner, visits in early summer when the air is still crisp. He is on a journey to discover the culture of the Ainu, an indigenous people who have lived in Hokkaido for centuries. Suffering long years of discrimination and forced assimilation, their culture was in danger of vanishing. Now, they are reclaiming their customs and reinventing themselves.


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6x15 Mt. Hotaka: Climbing to the Roof of Japan (July 07, 2015)


The Northern Alps range is often called "the roof of Japan." It is an area of great scenic beauty, offering superb views and unspoiled natural landscapes. Its highest peak is Mt. Hotaka, rising 3,190 meters above sea level, which stands at the heart of a national park that is the habitat for many species of wild animals, including the Japanese macaque. Kamikochi is the gateway to the mountain. It is a popular destination for hikers and other visitors. It was discovered by Walter Weston, a British missionary to Japan, who popularized recreational climbing in the nearby mountains in the late 19th century. As the birthplace of modern alpinism in Japan, this area remains a major center for sports climbing. On this edition of "Journeys in Japan," Cveto Podlogar sets off to climb to the snow-clad peak of Mt. Hotaka.


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6x14 Sado Island: Behind the Mask Dance (June 23, 2015)


Contemporary dancer Alessandra Lupi visits Sado Island to study the powerful Onidaiko demon dance. The traditional performing art is offered to the gods to pray for peace and abundant harvests. Alessandra also experiences the traditional lifestyle of the region. She stays in a charming inn converted from an old home, tries rice farming and meets apprentices of Kodo, the renowned drumming ensemble. During her journey, she comes to feel how closely the Onidaiko performing art is connected to the local way of life. On the last day of her journey, Alessandra is bestowed with an honor that is most unexpected…


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6x13 Shonan: Living the Slow Life on the Coast (June 16, 2015)


Shonan area lies on the coast of Sagami Bay in Kanagawa Prefecture, just to the south of Tokyo. Since ancient times, fishermen have lived along this coast, and there are still many fishing ports to be found. From the late 19th century, the area became a popular location for city people to set up holiday villas. And since the 1970s, it has become a center for surfing and youth culture. Evan Burkosky is from Canada. He has been surfing for 20 years. On this edition of Journeys in Japan, Evan visits the Shonan area. He rides the waves, he goes out with fishermen, and he gets to taste the good life, down on the coast.


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6x12 Awaji Island: Keeping Traditions Alive (June 02, 2015)


In Awaji Island, John and Ruadh Moore explore the farms, food and traditional culture. In ancient times, Awaji Island (Awaji-shima in Japanese) was known as Miketsu-kuni, a land that provided food to the imperial court. To this day, it is renowned for its fertile land and abundant seafood. John Moore lives in Kochi Prefecture, where he works on projects to help preserve traditional Japanese agricultural techniques for future generations. On this edition of Journeys in Japan, John visits Awaji with his daughter, Ruadh.


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6x11 Pure Himeji Beautiful Castle City, Craftsman Culture (May 12, 2015)


Himeji Castle, in Hyogo Prefecture, just reopened after an extensive renovation. Its dazzling white appearance has been fully restored. On Journeys in Japan, radio DJ Chris Glenn, who has visited more than 400 castles and ruins, explores the secrets hidden within the imposing fortress. Later he tastes thin, pure white somen noodles and encounters traditional handicrafts made of supple white leather. He meets with craftsmen who take great pride in producing their white leather material and wares.


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6x10 Lake Biwa: In Praise of Water (May 05, 2015)


Lake Biwa, Japan's largest freshwater lake, is located in the middle of the Japanese archipelago. Since ancient times, the expansive body of water has spawned myths and legends. British model and social entrepreneur, Dean Newcombe, spends time in a lakeside village. He discovers local wisdom for water sustainability that dates back more than two thousand years and meets residents who live in harmony with nature. Lake Biwa also attracts water sports enthusiasts. Dean gets in the water to try out some popular marine activities. At the end of his journey, he participates in Buddhist practices at Hieizan Enryakuji, the head temple of the Tendai sect. The experience gives him the chance to pause and reflect on himself.


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6x09 Mito: Gardens, Tradition and Spring Blossoms (April 28, 2015)


Throughout Japan, the blossoms of the ume plum trees signal the end of winter and herald the beginning of spring. The Kairakuen Garden in Mito, long considered one of the Japan's three greatest gardens, is famous for its many ume trees — about 3,000 in all, of 100 different varieties. The garden was laid out in 1842 by Tokugawa Nariaki, the head of the Mito Clan. A dark forest road leads to spacious groves of ume trees: this contrast reflects the traditional concepts of yin and yang. The Mito Lord was particularly fond of ume blossoms, as they withstand the cold of mid-winter and act as a harbinger of spring. The Hitachi Seaside Park, not far from Mito, is another place that is famous for its flowers. Here you can find many different kinds of plants in bloom, year-round.


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6x08 Otaru: Canal Town with Northern Lights (April 21, 2015)


Otaru City in Hokkaido Prefecture is a land with beautiful canals. In the past, the commercial town enjoyed prosperity as an anchorage site of cargo ships called “Kitamae Bune." It also played an important role as a base for the national scheme of Hokkaido development. Today, the city still preserves a group of old stone warehouses and a number of historical buildings, which creates an aura of romance and makes the area one of the most sought-after locations in filming. The truly unique atmosphere was a result of local people's long consistent efforts to conserve the old townscape.


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6x07 Kumamoto: Children, Dolls and Celebrating Spring (April 07, 2015)


Spring arrives early in Kumamoto, in southwestern Japan. In this region, people like to celebrate the annual Hina Dolls Festival. Arrays of dolls are displayed, to pray for the healthy growth of young girls in each family. On the islands of Amakusa in the west of Kumamoto, people have long practiced Christianity. They kept their faith, even during the centuries when it was banned and they faced persecution. During that time, they made dolls which they used as part of their worship. And in Kumamoto City, children make their dolls in preparation for spring. On this edition of Journeys in Japan, American photographer Kit Pancoast Nagamura discovers the rich culture and history of Kumamoto, where spring is celebrated and children have been cherished since ancient times.


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6x06 Majestic Yakushima in Winter (March 31, 2015)


Yakushima is listed as a UNESCO world natural heritage site. Located 60 kilometers off the southernmost tip of Kyushu, the small island has nearly 2,000 meter-high mountains and diverse climate zones from the subtropical to the subalpine resulting in a unique ecosystem. It's home to more than 1,000 year-old Yakusugi—a type of cedar—and also the endangered Yakushima White Pine. Photographer Peter Skov hikes up to the snow-capped summit of Mt. Miyanoura (1,936 meters), the highest peak in Yaksuhima—and even Kyushu—enjoying magnificent nature along the way. He also meets with people who are behind protecting the island's precious habitat. As Peter treks through deep snow, and primeval forest, he feels the magic of Yakushima.


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6x05 Sanriku: Returning the Emotion (March 10, 2015)


The Sanriku coast of northeastern Japan was one of the areas worst hit by the earthquake and tsunami of March 11, 2011. Among the volunteers who rushed to help the people in the disaster zone, there were many from other countries. Dean Newcombe, from the U.K., lives in Tokyo. Just 1 month after the earthquake, he made his way to Ishinomaki (Miyagi Pref.), together with some friends. He spent 9 months there, taking part in volunteer activities. On this episode of Journeys in Japan, Dean returns to the Ishinomaki area to see what daily life is like, 4 years after the disaster. He goes out with local fishermen in their boat, to find out first-hand about their work and lives. And he visits some of the people with whom he formed deep friendships while he was volunteering.


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6x04 Blues City Osaka (March 03, 2015)


Blues music is known and loved around the world, including Japan. But there is one place above all that has earned the title "the City of the Blues": Osaka. Since the 1970's, the blues has been part of the soundtrack for this gritty, eclectic metropolis, and there are still many clubs and bars that specialize in this music.


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6x03 Iwate: Savoring Winter (February 24, 2015)


Tohoku's Sanriku Coast faces the Pacific Ocean and runs parallel to the Kitakami Mountains. With bitter cold winters and periodic tsunamis, life in Tohoku is harsh. After the March 11 earthquake / tsunami disaster, establishing community was a priority and the people of Tohoku raced to meet the challenge of rebuilding. There is little time for ruminating about the past as they met the challenge of their future. On this episode of Journeys in Japan, radio personality and diving blogger, Bonnie Waycott visits the Kuji Ama divers before trying some hands on with Kuji Clay. Then she heads off to enjoy the cold weather and warm hearty Iwate cuisine with new friends...


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6x02 Naruko Onsen: The Home of Kokeshi Dolls (February 17, 2015)


Naruko Onsen, in Miyagi Prefecture, is located in the foothills of the Ou Mountains. With a history of more than a thousand years, the Naruko Onsen hot springs have long offered a respite to weary visitors, some who take advantage of its toji "long-stay" resorts. The hamlet is also famous for its traditional kokeshi dolls. These dolls were originally created during the Edo era (1603-1868) by wood craftsmen, as souvenirs for the spa visitors who stayed during the winter off-season. Initially serving as children's toys, today they are prized by people of all ages and nationalities. On her journey, Akane Nakajima experiences making her own kokeshi doll using traditional methods. She learns about Japan's hot spring culture and meets warm local people, listening to their thoughts and enjoying their Tohoku hospitality.


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6x01 Winter Wonderland: Hakodate (February 10, 2015)


The city of Hakodate, on the southern tip of Hokkaido, attracts as many as 4 million visitors each year, drawn by its historic charm, the beautiful night views and the superb seafood. It is especially magical in winter, when it is lit by extra illuminations. Photographer Kit Pancoast Nagamura discovers the beauty and flavors that can only be found in Hakodate in mid-winter.