Journeys in Japan Season 8

Season 8

Journeys in Japan Season 8

First Air Date: January 31, 2017

First Aired on    :   2017
Episodes    :   35 episodes



Episodes

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8x35 Karatsu: Festival Floats, Deep Community Spirit (December 12, 2017)


Karatsu Kunchi is a three-day festival held in November each year in Karatsu City, Saga Prefecture. The highlight is the gigantic floats known as hikiyama that are hauled through the streets of the old town. This tradition has a history dating back more than 300 years. In 2016, the festival was included in UNESCO's intangible cultural heritage list. On this edition of Journeys in Japan, Kyle Card visits Karatsu to discover the spirit of Kunchi. He observes the 14 floats, which each belong to a different neighborhood. And he meets some of the men who make this event happen.


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8x34 Passage of Time: Lake Towada in Autumn (December 05, 2017)


Lake Towada-on the border of Aomori and Akita prefectures-is one of Japan's most scenic spots. The large, double caldera lake is part of a national park. It is surrounded by deciduous broadleaved forest, which bursts into a riot of color in the fall. Kosaka is about forty minutes by car from the lake. The old mining town was once prosperous. The town's many elaborate buildings, blending Western architectural elements, are a testament to its affluence. On Journeys in Japan, we explore the nature around Lake Towada, old copper mines and unique 20th-century architecture.


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8x33 Togakushi: Autumn Hues at a Sacred Mountain (November 28, 2017)


Mt. Togakushi, in northern Nagano Prefecture, has been a focus for religious faith for over 1,000 years. From around the 13th century, it was a sacred center for Shugendo, a mountain religion based around ascetic practices. Then from the 17th century the area became popular among ordinary people as a pilgrimage destination. On this edition of Journeys in Japan, Huang Haiyan follows the old Togakushi pilgrimage trail. She visits the workshop of a craftsman making traditional wares, and also tries her hand at preparing the local specialty, soba (buckwheat noodles). Finally, she climbs to the top of Mt. Togakushi together with a mountaineering guide.


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8x32 Kikuma, Ehime: Pride and Pageantry (November 21, 2017)


Kikuma is located in northern Imabari City, Ehime Prefecture. The old town is known for its production of kawara roof tiles-an important industry with a history of more than 700 years. Many homes are decorated with ornate tiles at the end of roof ridges, called onigawara or "ogre tiles." They guard homeowners and town residents. Our traveler Cyril Coppini visits a kawara factory and learns about residents' attachment to the traditional tiles. He also discovers a colorful equine ritual with a history of over 600 years. The sacred rite, held on the grounds of the Kamo Shrine, involves horse racing and a pageant with both horse and rider in vibrant traditional costumes. Cyril meets a father and son who are devoted to the sacred race.


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8x31 Kagoshima: The Taste and Style of "Kuro" Culture (November 07, 2017)


Kagoshima is the southernmost prefecture of Kyushu. The Japanese word kuro (or "black") plays a very important role in the local culture - starting from the ash emitted by the volcano, Mt. Sakurajima, that overlooks Kagoshima City. kuro plays a key role in producing local liquor, shochu, as well as in the regional cuisine and the pottery made in this area. On this edition of Journeys in Japan, potter Euan Craig discovers the deep significance of Kagoshima's kuro culture.


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8x30 A River Runs Through Hokkaido (October 24, 2017)


Cutting through deep forests, the clear Mukawa River in Hokkaido has brought continuous blessings to the people along its way. In this episode, British actor Dean Newcombe follows the waterway 135 kilometers downstream to the Pacific Ocean. He discovers Hokkaido's stellar nature, the Mukawa River's deep history and its Ainu connections.


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8x29 Minami-Izu: Unspoiled Seaside Getaway (October 17, 2017)


The Minami-Izu area lies on the southern tip of the Izu Peninsula, in Shizuoka Prefecture. It is a popular destination for those who love marine sports, such as surfing, snorkeling and fishing. On this edition of Journeys in Japan, Michael Keida explores this rugged coastline. He catches some waves on his surf board. He rents a snorkel, mask and fins so he can look at the subtropical fish that live in the shallow sheltered waters. He goes out angling on a fishing boat, and then enjoys the seafood he catches for dinner at his lodging. The highlight of his trip is when he goes diving off Mikomoto-shima, an island nine kilometers off the coast of Minami-Izu. At this world-famous dive spot, he is lucky enough to see a huge group of hammerheads, a distinctive species of shark that can grow over four meters long.


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8x28 Nagara River: Pristine Beauty, Waterborne Bounty (October 10, 2017)


The Nagara River runs for 166 kilometers through the heart of Gifu Prefecture, in central Japan. Although some 830,000 people live along the river banks, the water is renowned throughout Japan for its pristine clarity. It is also famous for its abundant ayu ("sweetfish"), a species of freshwater fish that only live in unpolluted waterways, and which make a summer specialty for food lovers across the country. John Moore was born in Ireland but has lived in Japan for 30 years. On this edition of Journeys in Japan, John explores the Nagara River, meeting with residents who feel a strong bond with this waterway and who work hard to keep the river clean and clear. Their efforts are maintaining the habitat of the ayu fish and supporting the work of local artisans.


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8x27 Yanai: Old Town of Goldfish Lanterns (October 03, 2017)


Yanai prospered as a port town in the Seto Inland Sea. It was one of the largest merchant cities in the region during the late 18th century. The city has a tenderly preserved district where merchants' white-plaster grand homes, built in the traditional kura storehouse style, line the street. This charming district is adorned with hanging goldfish lanterns in the summertime. There are also Yanaijima textile shops. This hand-woven cotton textile, which features stripes in indigo shades, was once hugely popular but production gradually declined in the 19th century. However, with the passion of the local people, Yanaijima was revived about 20 years ago.


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8x26 Awa Odori Festival: Spirited Away in Tokushima (September 26, 2017)


The Awa Odori is a huge dance festival that takes over Tokushima City, Tokushima Prefecture, for four days in early August. It features some 100,000 fired-up dancers and attracts as many as 1.3 million spectators from home and abroad. Our traveler B.T. watches the dancing on the first day. On the second, he learns a few steps and chorus before jumping into the frenzied dancing himself. He also takes a side trip to Wakimachi, an old town near Tokushima City, where he enjoys its traditional townscape and experiences indigo dyeing. At the end of his journey, he heads out by boat to observe giant tidal whirlpools.


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8x25 Kochi's Summertime Fever: The Yosakoi! (September 19, 2017)


Kyle Card catches Kochi's summertime festival fever by observing, and even joining in, the dynamic Yosakoi where hundreds of colorfully attired people dance throughout the city. He meets people who have long been involved in this freestyle festival, which got its start in the lean postwar years as a way to revitalize the community. And as the city gears up for the major event, which attracts people from all around Japan, Kyle comes across teams passionately rehearsing in the streets. Then, finally, the streets explode in color, music, and dance. Don't miss the singular Yosakoi Festival.


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8x24 Taisetsuzan: Summer Alpine Discoveries (September 12, 2017)


Taisetsuzan, also called Daisetsuzan, is a mountain range home to Hokkaido's highest peak. In addition to its excellent hiking trails, Taisetsuzan is popular for its clusters of alpine flowers that blossom all the way up to the summit in late July, when summer is in full swing. The primeval woodlands at the base of the mountain range are a habitat of the higuma brown bear. Summer visitors often see the animals frolicking on slopes where there are still snow patches. Taisetsuzan lies at a high latitude, so its alpine zone starts at around 1,700 meters above sea level, 800 meters lower than in the Japanese Alps. Komakusa, Ezo azalea and penstemon grow past that point, as well as spectacular clusters of Aleutian avens. On this episode of Journeys in Japan, Peter Skov visits a recently opened flower garden, learns about the brown bears, and sees spectacular fields of alpine flora.


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8x23 Obuse, Nagano: Walking and Running for Fun (August 22, 2017)


Marathons are hugely popular in Japan. Every year, hundreds of them take place around the country. But the race held in the town of Obuse, in Nagano Prefecture, is very different. The aim of the Obuse Mini Marathon is not to compete against the clock but for participants to enjoy the hospitality of the local area. There are no major tourist attractions in the town. The runners just move at a relaxed pace through the residential areas and around the surrounding countryside. This event has become famous throughout Japan as the marathon with the largest number of runners in fancy dress. In this edition of Journeys in Japan, Sabrina Sayin comes to Obuse to take part in the Mini Marathon.


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8x22 Yonaguni: Wild West Escapades (August 15, 2017)


Our show's regular narrator Bill Sullivan escapes the studio to travel around the tiny island of Yonaguni in Okinawa Prefecture. He comes into contact with the original culture and customs of the island, while enjoying its food and song. He also takes on quite a challenge: marlin fishing... Tune into this edition of Journeys in Japan to find out the outcome of his marlin tournament and more about Japan's westernmost island!


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8x21 Deep into the Unspoiled Forest: Shirakami Sanchi (August 08, 2017)


Shirakami Sanchi is a vast region of forested mountains in northern Japan, straddling the border of Aomori and Akita prefectures. It is home to one of the largest virgin beech forests in the world, which has had barely any human impact over the centuries. That is why the core area of Shirakami Sanchi has been registered as a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1993. On this edition of Journeys in Japan, Catalin Munteanu visits this ancient forest, which is also a popular destination for trekking and river activities, such as rafting.


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8x20 Tottori: Sculpted by Nature (August 01, 2017)


On this episode of Journeys in Japan, actor Dean Newcombe from Britain explores the natural wonders of Tottori, including the majestic Tottori Sand Dunes. He meets farmers growing rakkyo, goes fishing for flying fish with his guesthouse owner, and hangs out with washi craftsmen.


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8x19 Murayama, Yamagata: Local Delicacies, Local Pride (July 25, 2017)


Each season in Japan brings its own special delicacies. When early summer arrives, that means it's cherry season. Seventy percent of all the cherries grown in Japan come from the Murayama district of Yamagata Prefecture, close to the Mogami River. The soil and climate here are perfect for cultivating the fruit. The moisture drains into the river system, and there is a wide fluctuation between the day and night-time temperatures. The cherries grown here are of a high quality, with a distinctive sweet-tart flavor. Since the old days, buckwheat has also been an important crop in this area. Local farmers have long produced soba noodles from their own home-grown buckwheat. Many of them have converted their homes into restaurants, and customers come from afar to enjoy the fragrance and firm texture of their specialty.


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8x18 Mount Daisen: Mystical Rites, Local Life (July 18, 2017)


Mount Daisen, in Tottori Prefecture in western Japan, stands 1,729 meters high. Often noted for its resemblance to Mount Fuji, it is ranked 3rd on a list of celebrated mountains in Japan. It's also been an object of worship of a mountain religion since ancient times. Daisen-ji temple was built about 1,300 years ago. From olden days, people have come to pray to the Jizo (guardian diety of travelers and children) enshrined at the temple. Our reporter John Daub follows the old pilgrim's path to Daisen-ji temple, encountering traces of the mountain religion.


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8x17 Meiwa-cho, Mie: An Ancient Legend Comes to Life (July 11, 2017)


Until about 700 years ago, princesses from Japan's imperial family were sent to act as high priestesses at Ise Jingu, the ancient shrine that is considered the most sacred site in Japan's Shinto religion. These servants of the deities were known as Saio and the place where they lived was known as Saiku. In the 14th century, the site was abandoned and eventually it was only known from the ancient legends. But in 1970 excavations began, which confirmed that Saiku stood in the modern-day town of Meiwa-cho, in Mie Prefecture. In this edition of Journeys in Japan, Felicia Gonzalez visits Meiwa-cho to explore this legendary site. She observes the annual Saio Festival, in which people dress in period costume. And she meets the people of this town where present-day culture meets ancient history and the people take pride in the traditions of the past.


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8x16 Nanyo, Ehime: Water for Life and Fun (July 04, 2017)


The Nanyo area of Ehime Prefecture is blessed with abundant water. It lies on the west coast of Shikoku Island, looking out on the Uwa Sea and bathed by the warm Kuroshio Current. The Onigajo Mountain Range receives substantially more rain, with some 2,700 millimeters observed each year. Much of that water flows quickly down to the sea, molding the topography of the area. Offshore, the warm water from the Kuroshio Current mixes with the nutrient-rich fresh water from the mountains, making an ideal habitat for coral and a remarkable variety of marine life. On this edition of Journeys in Japan, Michael Keida follows the flow of this water, from the mountains slopes down to the ocean bed.


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8x15 Manazuru: Good Living by Design (June 27, 2017)


Manazuru has thrived on quarrying and fishing since olden times. On Journeys in Japan, Kyle Card discovers this small coastal town near Tokyo and its simple attractions, which remain intact not by chance, but by design. The vibrant, civic-minded residents are behind Manazuru's nostalgic landscape.


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8x14 Monobe, Kochi: Tales from the Magical Mountain Hamlet (June 20, 2017)


In the mountain village of Monobe-located in eastern Kochi Prefecture-a folk belief called Izanagi-ryu has been passed down for generations. Izanagi-ryu harmoniously blends elements of Shintoism, Buddhism and folk religions in a rare style of prayer. Traveler Alessandra Lupi discovers the world of this mysterious belief system. She visits the residence of a tayu; tayu are mentors or leaders of Izanagi-ryu. And, she learns about its religious art and how to make a ritual paper tool called gohei. She also gets to study its Mai Kagura ritual dance. Gradually, after a walk along an ancient Salt Road and farmhouse inn stay, Alessandra gets a sense of how Izanagi-ryu plays an organic role in the rural community.


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8x13 Nara: Ancient Sanctuary for all Living Creatures (May 30, 2017)


The ancient city of Nara lies close to Kyoto and Osaka. Around 1,300 years ago it was the capital of Japan, and numerous sacred sites are preserved there dating back to that period of history. Located at the foot of wild mountains covered with thick forest, many of the traditional beliefs and religious rites in this area concern the relationship between people and the living creatures that inhabit this area. There are deer that roam freely around the compound of Kasuga Taisha, the city's main shrine. They have long been considered as the messengers of the deity worshiped there, and to this day the local people take great care of them. Foxes, snakes and monkeys are other animals that are believed to have a connection with the deities. And an annual ritual is held to remember the living creatures that have sacrificed their lives in daily life. On this edition of Journeys in Japan, poet and scholar Peter MacMillan explores Nara and the spiritual practices of this timeless heartland.


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8x12 Hakuba: Off Piste to a Hidden Hot Spring (May 09, 2017)


One popular starting point for backcountry skiing in Japan is the Hakuba area of Nagano Prefecture. There is a well established route connecting the Tsugaike Valley to Mt. Norikuradake, and from there to Renge Onsen and down to the village of Kijiya, in Niigata Prefecture. Of course, there is much more involved than just skiing down the mountainsides. In some places, you have to first make your way to the top of the mountains, using climbing skins on your skis. Although this ascent can be very hard, the reward is the breathtaking experience of gliding down on virgin snow. In this edition of Journeys in Japan, Cveto Podlogar explains how to prepare to go out skiing in the backcountry, practicing on the slopes of a ski resort before setting off.


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8x11 Nagoya: Samurai Warlord Chronicles (May 02, 2017)


Nagoya, in Aichi prefecture, was the main battlefield during the prolonged Sengoku, Warring States period 500 years ago. In this episode of Journeys in Japan, American actor Charles Glover, travels back in time, discovering the legacy of local samurai warlord heroes whose battles were waged to end the civil war.


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8x10 Oya, Utsunomiya: Stone Town & Quarry Ruins Tour (April 25, 2017)


On this edition of Journeys in Japan, we travel to Oya, an old stone town in Utsunomiya City, Tochigi Prefecture. Australian radio DJ Chris Glenn visits an ancient temple carved into a cave and featuring stone Buddhist reliefs. He goes underground into a cavernous former quarry. And in another ruin, he takes an adventure tour of a mystical underground lake. He stops by a stone artisan's workshop as well as a jazz cafe where the owner has created speakers with Oya stone. On this journey, Chris feels the deep connection between the local people and their beautiful stone.


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8x09 Odate: The Land of the Akita Inu (April 18, 2017)


The statue of Hachi the Dog sits near Shibuya's famous scramble crossing. Hachi was an Akita Inu, a breed designated as a national natural monument. The breed originated in Odate City, Akita Prefecture in northern Japan. Odate thrived on mineral mining and forestry from the beautiful forests of Akita sugi, a type of cedar. But today, it's especially known as the birthplace of the Akita Inu. On Michael's travels around Odate he meets the famed dog and gets a glimpse into locals' everyday lives. He also takes part in the Amekko Festival, which dates back 400 years.


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8x08 Mt. Norikuradake: A Peak Winter Experience (April 11, 2017)


Mt. Norikuradake lies 200 kilometers west of Tokyo, straddling the border of Nagano and Gifu prefectures. Of all Japan's 3,000-meter-plus mountains, it is one of the easiest to reach. And its relatively gentle slope makes it a popular destination for alpinists of all levels. A ski lift takes you up to the trailhead, and there is a mountain lodge at 2,400 meters which operates during the winter, so it is an ideal climb, even for first-timers. However, the final ascent from the lodge to the peak is a severe climb, just as it is on other 3,000-meter-plus peaks, and should only be attempted by experienced alpinists. On this edition of Journeys in Japan, Liivi Selde discovers the pleasure of snowshoe trekking from Norikura Kogen, at the foot of the mountain.


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8x07 Hokkaido: Sculpting Winter's Ice and Snow (April 04, 2017)


In winter, Hokkaido is covered by a deep blanket of snow and the land lies dormant. But for the people who live in Japan's northernmost main island, this season offers an opportunity for creativity and community spirit. Every year, they illuminate the midwinter landscape with spectacular displays of ice, snow and light. The biggest and best known is the Sapporo Snow Festival. Held in February, it has a history of over half a century and attracts around 2.6 million visitors. During the same period, other festivals take place in Hokkaido, including the Otaru Snow Light Path and the Lake Shikotsu Ice Festival. On this edition of Journeys in Japan, British sculptor Kate Thomson visits the three festivals to view the creations and meet some of the people who help to make them.


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8x06 Ibaraki: Savoring Winter Flavors (March 07, 2017)


Ibaraki Prefecture's coastline extends about 200 kilometers along the Pacific. Warm and cold currents meet off the shoreline, creating fertile fishing grounds. Many fish types are landed year-round at the ports. But anko, or monkfish, is a special delicacy in winter-both its fatty meat and liver. In Kitaibaraki, our traveler David Wells samples dobujiru, a hot pot using anko, which was originally devised by fishermen. David discovers that dried sweet potato making is in full swing in the coastal area of central Ibaraki, where the dry wind and sunshine sweeten up the produce. Leaving the sea behind, David follows a river inland to Lake Hinuma, a brackish salt water marsh. The shijimi, or Japanese basket clam, caught in Hinuma in winter is prized for its rich flavor and plump meat. David Wells, a Japanese cuisine chef, delights in the winter delicacies, nature and a simple way of life in Ibaraki.


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8x05 Tokoname: City of Ceramics Past and Present (February 28, 2017)


Chubu Centrair International Airport is built on an artificial island off the Chita Peninsula in Aichi Prefecture, to the south of Nagoya. The architecture is contemporary but the interior has been laid out with many traditional Japanese design elements. From the airport, it takes just five minutes by train to reach Tokoname, one of Japan's longtime centers for traditional pottery. Just about everything in the city is connected with ceramics production. On this edition of Journeys in Japan, Estella Mak first looks around Centrair Airport, before moving on to explore Tokoname.


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8x04 Suruga Bay: The Bounty of the Deep (February 21, 2017)


Suruga Bay, off Shizuoka Prefecture, is the deepest bay in Japan, plunging to a depth of around 2,500 meters. Around the port, there are many places to eat delicious, fresh-caught seafood. There are also a number of famous viewing spots that provide wonderful vistas of Mt. Fuji. On this edition of Journeys in Japan, photographer Kit Pancoast Nagamura explores this area along the coast, sampling the local delicacies and meeting some of the people who live on this land between Mt. Fuji and Suruga Bay.


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8x03 Niseko: Snowy Adventures (February 14, 2017)


This edition of Journeys in Japan explores the international winter resort of Niseko in Hokkaido. John Moore and family friends enjoy a snowmobile tour, experience traditional snow country life, watch a powerful performance of taiko drumming, and sample winter delicacies. They discover a terrific winter playground-enhanced by the world's best powder snow.


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8x02 Ogawayama: A Rock Climber's Paradise (February 07, 2017)


Ogawayama (Mount Ogawa) is known as a "rock climber's paradise." Located near Kawakami Village in Nagano Prefecture, it takes about three hours to reach from Tokyo by car. The mountain is popular for having climbing spots located near its main base. The closest is only minutes away, while the farthest is only about an hour's walk. On this edition of Journeys in Japan we introduce the appeal of Ogawayama rock climbing, including bouldering. Our reporter Cveto Podlogar takes on the longest climbing route of Ogawayama, called "Eboshi Iwa Sa Ryosen." The route affords the thrill of heights and magnificent views along the way. After much climbing, Cveto enjoys creature comforts-he's glamping, Japanese-style.


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8x01 Koza: A Rhythm All Its Own (January 31, 2017)


The area called Koza in Okinawa city-in the center of Okinawa prefecture-is famous for its international atmosphere with immigrants from more than 40 countries. Since the end of World War II, Kadena, the largest American air force base in the Pacific, has largely occupied the city. Services for soldiers in Kadena flourished after the war, ushering in an age of unprecedented prosperity. People from all over the world descended on the city for business opportunities, which led to the melting pot you find today. British actor Dean Newcombe explores exotic Koza.