Journeys in Japan Season 7

Season 7

Journeys in Japan Season 7

First Air Date: February 02, 2016

First Aired on    :   2016
Episodes    :   36 episodes



Episodes

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7x36 Isumi-Ichinomiya: Fresh Air and Laid-Back Living (December 20, 2016)


The Isumi-Ichinomiya area lies on the east coast of Chiba Prefecture, facing out toward the Pacific Ocean. It's just an hour from Tokyo by train, but it feels much further away. Thanks to the mild climate, it is much cooler in the summer. With its long, sandy beaches and quiet farming villages, it feels as relaxed as an overseas resort. In recent years, a growing number of people have moved to Isumi-Ichinomiya, including many foreigners resident in Japan. Leaving behind the busy pace of life in Tokyo or other cities, they have been able to put down strong roots in this tranquil environment. English teacher and vocalist for a hard rock band, Robert Beaupre explores the Isumi-Ichinomiya area.


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7x35 Hagi: The cradle of modern Japan (December 13, 2016)


Hagi, in Yamaguchi Prefecture, western Japan, is one of Japan's best known castle towns. The traditional townscape with its stores and old houses has remained unchanged since the time of the Edo shoguns (1603-1868). The plan of the streets is so similar that you could use an Edo-period map to find your way around the town. Hagi was founded by the warlord Terumoto Mori, after he was forced to retreat following his defeat in the Battle of Sekigahara (1600). Despite its secluded location on the Japan Sea coast, surrounded by mountains, many leading figures who contributed to Japan's modernization were born here.


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7x34 Sacred Mt. Ishizuchi: Autumn Trekking (November 29, 2016)


At a height of 1,982 meters, Mt. Ishizuchi is the tallest peak in western Japan. It takes about three and a half hours to the summit if you board the ropeway for part of the journey. During the fall season many people hike up to view the autumn leaves. Mt. Ishizuchi has been revered as sacred since ancient times. Mountain ascetics worship here to this day. It is also called "the mountain of life" by neighboring residents. At the foot of the mountain lies Saijo City, where its plains' annual rainfall registers only 1,400 millimeters. But the rainfall on Mt. Ishizuchi is two to three times that amount, most of which flows into the city. The rich groundwater is said to rank among the tastiest in Japan. There are many public water fountains in Saijo.


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7x33 Munakata: The Sea and Goddesses (November 22, 2016)


Munakata City is located in northwestern Kyushu, facing the Sea of Genkai. As an ancient maritime trade route, Munakata opened its doors to international commerce and cultures, playing an important role in history. The city has been nurtured by deep faith since mythical times. And the 1,400-year-old Munakata Taisha, which worships three sister goddesses, is at the center of that faith. Munakata Taisha holds an annual ritual in which the two elder goddesses-who live on nearby islands-travel to join their younger sister in Munakata. Hundreds of fishing boats take part in the spectacular Miare Festival, carrying vibrant banners. Poet Peter MacMillan visits Munakata Taisha and observes the ritual-getting transported back in time.


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7x32 Chichibu: An Autumn Pilgrimage (November 15, 2016)


For hundreds of years, pilgrims have made their way to the hills of Chichibu, northwest of Tokyo, to follow an ancient pilgrimage route. Wearing special pure white tunics, they visit 34 Buddhist temples in the area that are dedicated to the Bodhisattva Kannon. On this edition of Journeys in Japan, Estella Mak returns to Chichibu to complete the pilgrimage she began in the spring.


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7x31 Walking the Nakasendo: A Road to the Past (November 08, 2016)


Nakasendo is one of the five highways constructed in Japan during the Edo Period (1603 – 1868). Connecting Edo (old Tokyo) and Kyoto, it has 69 post towns along its way. The post towns of Magome and Tsumago are situated about midway along the old road. Magome is known for its beautiful cobbled slopes. Tsumago showcases a stunning, traditional townscape-thanks to the conservation efforts started in the early 1970s-with many buildings from the Edo Period. Electric poles have been buried and advertising signboards banished. Ananda Jacobs walks along the Nakasendo Way from Magome to Tsumago. She enjoys the traditional landscape and discovers how closely local people live with nature.


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7x30 Yubari: Mining the Nostalgia (October 25, 2016)


Yubari, in the center of Hokkaido, is famous for its international film festival, which is held each winter, and for its picturesque scenery. But half a century at it was best known as a thriving coal mining community. Now little remains of that era except memories and atmospheric ruins. On this edition of Journeys in Japan, American actor Charles Glover explores the relics of Yubari's past, and finds there is still life in the city.


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7x29 Tanegashima: Guns, Rockets and Surf (October 18, 2016)


Tanegashima is an island that has embraced new cultures and people since olden times. Starting with Japan's first firearms-brought in by the Portuguese-the island has accepted all kinds of things from sweet potatoes from Sumatra and a major space center to surfing culture. British model, actor and social entrepreneur Dean Newcombe meets the energetic people and discovers the diversity of Tanegashima.


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7x28 Uchikawa: A Retro River Townscape (October 11, 2016)


This neighborhood lying alongside the Uchikawa River in Imizu CIty, Toyama Prefecture, has been a thriving fishing port for over 1,000 years. Because of its proximity to the water and its unified townscape, it has been nicknamed the "Venice of Japan." Through the centuries, people in this district have lived alongside the river, protecting and handing down their traditional lifestyle from to the next generation.


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7x27 Deep Into Kurobe: Toyama Climbing (September 27, 2016)


The source of the Kurobe River-deep in the Northern Alps in Toyama Prefecture-is a rarely explored place. No matter which trailhead hikers choose, they must all pass over ridges of more than 2000 meters above sea level to reach the source. This is one of the reasons it was the last area in Japan to be developed for hiking. It remains unspoiled today. On Journeys in Japan, photographer Peter Skov explores the mountains around Kurobe River's headwaters. He starts out from the Oritate trailhead, passes over a ridge, descends to the Kurobe River, and heads to a highland paradise called Kumonodaira. He also experiences "sawanobori" or stream climbing up the Akagisawa. Peter revels in the spectacular nature around the source of the Kurobe River.


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7x26 Akita: Swaying Lanterns Brighten Summer Nights (September 20, 2016)


The Akita Kanto Festival attracts more than a million tourists every year. One kanto pole is lit with 46 lanterns and more than 250 poles are raised up together, creating a dreamlike picture of illuminated golden rice ears swaying in the night sky. The festival can also be enjoyed in the daytime, where competitions called "Myogikai" are held and the performers compete in showing their acrobatic skills. Our traveler is Malaysian model Deborah Ten. She enjoys the festival and the pastoral scenery of summer in Akita.


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7x25 Aomori: Out of This World (September 13, 2016)


Aomori, the northernmost prefecture of Japan's Honshu main island, has a number of enigmatic places that feel a world apart. On Journeys in Japan poet Arthur Binard explores the area's sacred spots. He passes through more than 200 torii gates leading to a Shinto shrine, encounters fantastically-shaped giant rocks, and visits a sacred borderline of this life and the afterlife, as well as a temple with 2,000 stone Jizo statues. He discovers the mysterious traditions of Aomori.


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7x24 Hidden Village Kuma (August 23, 2016)


Deep in the steep mountains of Kumamoto Prefecture, Kyushu, lies the remote village of Kuma. Located on the raging Kuma River, this area was cut off from the rest of Japan in the old days and still retains the feel of yesteryear. On this edition of Journeys in Japan, British actor Dean Newcombe explores this rural region, to meet the people of Kuma and discover their traditions.


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7x23 Hokkaido: Summer Gardens under the Northern Sky (August 16, 2016)


Hokkaido, Japan's northernmost main island, turns into a paradise of flowers in spring and summer. After the harsh winter, plant life erupts in all its brilliant glory. It's a wonderful place to discover gardens. The 250-kilometer highway from Asahikawa to Obihiro passes close to eight notable gardens. That is why it has come to be called the "Hokkaido Garden Path". Each garden has its own individual character, setting, and vegetation. Anthony Wood is a photographer from the United States who has lived in Japan for 10 years. On this edition of Journeys in Japan, Anthony embarks on a road trip through the far north of Japan, in search of beauty.


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7x22 Bounty of the Wild North: Cape Soya, Hokkaido (August 02, 2016)


Cape Soya lies at the northernmost tip of Hokkaido Island. Located at a latitude of 45° North, the landscape in this area is very different from the rest of Japan - and it is sometimes known as the "Ireland of Japan." In this edition of Journeys in Japan, John Moore explores the wild nature of Japan's northernmost tip. He sees for himself the bounty of the ocean, even in this harsh climate. And he tries his hand at fly fishing, in the hopes that he may come face to face with the mysterious itou fish.


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7x21 Sabae: Eye on Design (July 26, 2016)


Sabae City, located on the Sea of Japan in central Fukui Prefecture, has a population of about 70,000. Sabae is renowned as a center for craftsmanship since olden times. It produces 90 percent of all eyewear frames sold in Japan and produces more than 80 percent of lacquerware used in restaurants across the country. The textile industry is another leading engine of Fukui business. In terms of eyeglasses, our traveler Cyril Coppini learns about its local history and tries his hand at frame-making. In the arena of lacquer, he visits a master artisan at his workshop for an in-depth look at how it's made. As for textiles, Cyril meets a woman who is preserving, and passing on, the skills for weaving a traditional fabric called, Ishidajima. Cyril also gets to know young people who have relocated to Sabae to pursue their craft.


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7x20 Okayama: The Profound Spirit of the Rocks (July 19, 2016)


Takahashi City in Okayama Prefecture is a popular destination for sports climbers. Rock climbing courses were first set up here in the late 1980s, and the area is now known by the name Bichu. TV producer Christian Storms is an avid sports climber. On this edition of Journeys in Japan, he scales one of the rock walls of Bichu. He visits an island that has a long history of producing high quality granite and inspects an existing quarry. He meets a traditional craftsman who uses the local slate to carve calligraphy inkstones by hand. And he discovers the profound connection that people here have long felt for their rocks.


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7x19 Iejima: Resilient Land, Resilient People (July 12, 2016)


Iejima is a small island off of mainland Okinawa. It was the scene of fierce battles in World War II. Its people suffered deep wounds. But they never gave up. After the war, they devoted themselves to replanting their burned fields to revive the land and their spirits. Today, the island produces original products made from sugarcane and wheat, and invites scores of students to experience simple island life. American photographer and writer, Kit Pancoast Nagamura enjoys the slow island life. She also meets the resilient, and resourceful, people of Iejima.


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7x18 A Taste of Nagasaki (June 28, 2016)


During several hundred years of national self-isolation, Nagasaki served as Japan's only window to the world. Many foreign cultures flowed into this port town, nurturing the development of cuisine found nowhere else. Behind each and every dish born in Nagasaki, there's a story. David gets to hear these tales from people who take pride in keeping Nagasaki's unique culinary traditions alive.


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7x17 Komatsu Kabuki Kids (June 21, 2016)


The tradition of children's kabuki on festival floats has 250 years of history in Komatsu. American actor, Charles Glover travels to Komatsu, Ishikawa prefecture, to experience this castle town's deep culture and excitement over its "Otabi" festival. A highlight of the festival, which is held in May, is the magical outdoor kabuki performance.


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7x16 Nara: Tranquil Temples and Bountiful Blooms (June 14, 2016)


Japan is famous for its spectacular displays of cherry blossom, which draw visitors from far and near. But the peak season for most other flowers in Japan arrives after the cherry petals have fallen. Nara City used to be the capital of Japan, before Kyoto. The surrounding area is home to many ancient temples that boast beautiful gardens within their precincts. It is a wonderful place to view the abundance of seasonal flowers, and a great opportunity to find tranquilty and restful rural scenery. On this edition of Journeys in Japan, Deborah Ten visits temples known for their displays of early summer flowers.


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7x15 Tendo: An Enduring, Evolving Passion for Wood (June 07, 2016)


Tendo City, Yamagata Prefecture, is a major producer of pieces for shogi-Japanese chess. They are only three centimeters long, but appreciated as miniature works of art due to their beautiful calligraphy, their high quality material, and beautiful grain patterns. Ukiyo-e woodblock printmaker David Bull visits a shogi-piece craftsman and one of Japan's top designer furniture makers. He also enjoys a spectacular shogi festival and dishes using fu, a local specialty made from wheat gluten and fresh water.


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7x14 Ise-Shima: Experiencing a Lifestyle Close to Nature (May 31, 2016)


The Ise-Shima area of Mie Prefecture is best known for its beautiful, indented coastline. But recently it's been in the news for another reason: it is the venue for the 42nd Group of Seven meeting, which is being hosted by Japan this year. In this edition of Journeys in Japan, Sonia del Campo begins her journey on Kashiko-jima, a popular resort island which is where the G7 summit takes place.


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7x13 Mihonoseki: Land of the Gods (May 24, 2016)


Mihonoseki is on the eastern cape of the ShimanePeninsula, surrounded on three sides by water: the Sea of Japan to the north and Miho Bay and Nakaumi to the south. It prospered during the Edo period (1603- 1868), when it was a port of call of Kitamaebune trade ships. Today, it's a fishing port and a gateway to the sea. It still retains charming features from its heyday in the Edo period. The people of Mihonoseki have long cherished their gods and lived with the blessings of the sea. Rituals are an important part of their lives. In April, every year, they hold the Aofushigaki ritual, enacting an episode in mythology when the god Kotoshironushi (more commonly known as Ebisu) decides to hand over his land to the heavenly gods and takes to the sea to hide.


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7x12 Akiu: In the Footsteps of a Legendary Warlord (May 17, 2016)


The warlord Date Masamune rose to power during Japan's Warring States period in the 16th century, and went on to control a large area of Tohoku (northeastern Japan). Thanks to his rule, the castle town of Sendai developed into the largest city in the region. It is now a major industrial, economic and cultural hub for the region. Date Masamune was highly skilled in the military arts, but he was also known for his love of literature and his progressive thinking. He enjoyed composing waka (Japanese poetry), and loved sophisticated banquets. He also had a great interest in the world outside of Japan, and he sent special envoys as far as Europe. Even today, Date Masamune remains one of Japan's most popular historical figures. On hunting trips, the warlord would often visit a place called Akiu, where he would relax in the pools of natural hot-spring water. Peter MacMillan is a poet and printmaker from Ireland. In this edition of Journeys in Japan, Peter arrives in Akiu on the cusp of spring.


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7x11 Chichibu: A Springtime Pilgrimage (May 03, 2016)


For centuries, the faithful have made their way to Chichibu, in Saitama Prefecture, to visit Buddhist temples devoted to the Bodhisattva Kannon. This pilgrimage route, comprising 34 temples in all, became popular during the Edo Period some 200 years ago, and still draws many people to this day. Just 90 minutes from Tokyo by train, the Chichibu area is surrounded by mountains and boasts beautiful natural scenery together with historic rural villages. On this edition of Journeys in Japan, Estella Mak is shown around some of the major temples on the pilgrimage route by a local guide. She discovers the culture and traditions of the area, and enjoys some of the local delicacies.


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7x10 Okayama: Into the Deep Red (April 26, 2016)


It's spring in Okayama, which facing the Inland Sea of Japan in the south and the Chugoku Mountains in the north, is blessed with abundant nature. In this edition of Journeys in Japan, John Moore and his daughter Ruadh visit the area, which has a long history and rich culture. They look for "the traditional reds" of Japan. In Fukiya, they appreciate the earthy-rouge townscape. They taste a steamed sea bream dish the locals eat on joyous occasions. The fish's scales are a reddish pink, so people often call it "cherry blossom sea bream." The father and daughter also visit a swordsmith and observe how he forges a blade from the flaming red tamahagane, or raw carbon steel.


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7x09 Iwate Winter Rite (April 19, 2016)


Deep in the north of Japan at a mountain temple, a festival called the Somin-sai and nicknamed the Naked Festival, has been held for around one thousand years. British actor, Dean Newcombe, travels to Oshu, in southern Iwate, to join in this enigmatic festival. First he takes in some of Oshu's other ancient winter rites. And then he visits a Zen training temple to practice asceticism to focus his mind for the harsh festival. The finale of his trip-the Somin-sai-was an experience beyond Dean's wildest dreams.


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7x08 Kinosaki Onsen: Bathing in Tradition (April 12, 2016)


Kinosaki Onsen is one of the most famous hot spring resorts in western Japan. It has about 80 ryokan inns along a picturesque street that follows the course of a river lined with willow trees and crossed by numerous stone bridges. Many of these inns are three-story wooden structures built some 90 years ago. Around a million tourists visit this town every year to enjoy the baths, the traditional townscape and the old-time retro atmosphere. On this edition of Journeys in Japan, woodblock printmaker David Bull comes to Kinosaki Onsen to soak in the hot spring baths and to dine on the winter-time delicacy, fresh crab. He also discovers a handicraft made with straw. He visits a retro game arcade, and gets to know some of the local people over drinks and karaoke.


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7x07 Yatsugatake: Outdoor Winter Play (April 05, 2016)


The Yatsugatake mountain range-just 150 kilometers west of Tokyo-is a convenient destination for outdoor winters sports. Ice climbing is one of its popular attractions. Beginners can even get in practice on an artificial ice wall near a mountain hut before taking on the area's many waterfalls. On Journeys in Japan we practice ice climbing and head to the summit of Yatsugatake's highest mountain, Mt. Akadake (2,899 m), passing through a ravine with a series of frozen waterfalls. Cveto Podlogar is an experienced alpinist who has scaled numerous peaks around the world. He is not only our reporter, but also our guide to the area's fantastic ice climbing and snow trekking.


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7x06 Kakunodate: Pride in the Samurai Tradition (March 22, 2016)


The ancient town of Kakunodate, in Akita Prefecture, northern Japan, is steeped in history. For visitors, it is like a time slip — back to the period when the streets were filled with samurai warriors. In the old days it developed as a castle town and became a regional hub, both economically and culturally. Many vestiges remain from the Edo Period (1603-1868), including former samurai residences, which are open to the public. On this edition of Journeys in Japan, Peter MacMillan explores this fascinating town, which is known as the "little Kyoto of the Michinoku region".


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7x05 Okinoerabu Island: Home Away from Home (March 15, 2016)


The tropical island of Okinoerabu is known for its pristine, wild nature. It is also known for its agricultural products, such as sugar cane and flowers, thanks to the abundant spring water that gushes up from underground. Many young people move here or come back from other areas, drawn by the island's simple charms and work opportunities. While most of Japan faces depopulation, Okinoerabu has a large population of children. The tradition of the elderly taking care of youngsters is still alive. Writer and photographer, Kit Pancoast Nagamura, travels to this gem of island.


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7x04 Kushiro: The Crystalline Sounds of Winter (March 01, 2016)


JJ travels through the Kushiro Wetland in Hokkaido. He sees Red-crowned Cranes-a designated Natural Monument of Japan-and takes a dreamy canoe ride on a river flowing through the frosty and snowy wetland. Later, he experiences a grill-style of cooking called robatayaki. We introduce the natural attractions of Kushiro with a focus on the splendid sights and sounds of winter.


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7x03 Koyasan: New Year at a Traditional Power Spot (February 16, 2016)


The sacred area of Koyasan was founded in the year 816 by Kukai, a Japanese monk who went to China to learn the practices of esoteric Buddhism. Kukai is also known by his posthumous name, Kobo Daishi. Together with other sacred sites in the Kii mountains, Koyasan has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site. There are about 50 temple lodgings (known as shukubo) at Koyasan. On this edition of Journeys in Japan, Jenn Barr stays at one of these lodgings and experiences the way the New Year is welcomed at this traditional power spot.


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7x02 Miyako:The Island of Song (February 09, 2016)


Miyako Island, one of the southernmost islands of Japan, is a tropical paradise. Since olden times, the islanders have used song and dance in sacred rituals and as a way to unwind in every day life. American Shakuhachi player, Bruce Huebner travels around the island, discovering its heartbeat.


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7x01 Takachiho: Dancing for the deities (February 02, 2016)


Takachiho lies deep in the mountains of Miyazaki Prefecture, in Kyushu. It is believed to be the setting for Japan's creation myth. In winter, villagers perform sacred dances, known Yokagura, which have been passed down among the local community for more than 1,000 years. Both the performers and the audience immerse themselves in the world of myth and reaffirm the bonds that connect them.




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