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- TV Show Ended -
There is no Next Episode of Joanna Lumley's Japan planned.
Joanna starts her 2000 mile journey across Japan in Hokkaido – one of the four main islands, where she travels to meet one of the most important animals in Japanese culture, the red-crowned cranes.
Leaving the countryside behind her, Joanna heads to Sapporo her first Japanese city. She arrives during the middle of the annual Snow Festival, and meets members of the local indigenous community, the Ainu. Travelling south she visits a brewery that has been making sake since 1689 and walks to see one of the oldest Pagodas in Japan, dating back to the 10th century and constructed entirely out of wood with no nails.
Joanna travels into the Fukushima exclusion zone, where a huge tsunami devastated the nuclear power plant in 2011. She visits Jigokudani Onsen which is not full of people….but Japanese Macaques or snow monkeys. Over 150 of them come down from the frozen mountains every morning and spend most of the day enjoying the steaming hot waters. Joanna takes a Shinkansen (bullet train) from Nagano to Tokyo, the capital of Japan and world's largest metropolis; where it's time to embrace the modern metropolis of Japan's post war economic boom.
Joanna is in Tokyo and flies over the city spanning 5420 square miles, in a helicopter.
Tokyo was bombed extensively during the second world war, so almost all of Tokyo has been built in the last seventy years; a symbol of Japan's post war economic boom that saw it become the world's second largest economy.
In the evening, Joanna heads out to a nightclub to see Kamem Joshi, a Japanese girl band. She watches the energetic performance and sees that the largely male audience are performing almost as much as the girls on stage.
Joanna meets up with Minori, a fashion designer and internationally known artist. She wears ‘Shinori' make up, meaning her face is white, similar to Geisha.
Joanna leaves the bustling city and travels to the Kiso Valley to walk the Nakasendo Way, an ancient route that once linked Tokyo to Kyoto. Arriving in Kyoto at the peak of the city's cherry blossom season, Joanna takes a tour of the city's favourite Hanami spots by taxi.
Kyoto is also best known for that most famous of Japanese traditions, the Geisha. Joanna goes to Gion, Kyoto's entertainment district, where she meets a trainee Geisha, called Maiko Tomitsuyu. She happily chats to Joanna about her world and experiences.
Joanna travels to the island of Shikoku to undertake a pilgrimage, visiting a selection of temples to gain a better understanding of Japanese Buddhism. She then takes a bullet train to the fourth of Japan's main islands; Kyushu where she finds the Henn Na Hotel, the world's first robot hotel.
Joanna travels south to Nagasaki – the site of the second atomic bomb to be dropped on Japan in 1945. She visits Shiroyama Elementary school which was the school closest to the bomb's hyper centre, and one of the only buildings to survive. Joanna meets Matsuyoshi Ikeda – a student of the school, the day the bomb dropped. He shares his miraculous story of survival.
Joanna travels south to Kagoshima and home to one of Japan's most active volanoes, Sakurajima. She witnesses a volcano drill at the local elementary school and takes to the skies in a plane, to get as close as possible to the crater.
Joanna's final destination are the islands of Okinawa where one of the bloodiest battles of WW2 was fought between Japanese and American troops. This is where the Japanese Navy made the ultimate sacrifice - committing seppuku (suicide, Samurai style) instead of being captured by the American forces. For her final destination Joanna travels to Kohama, an island whose population is famed for the longevity of its residents. She meets members of KBG84, a group of charming elderly ladies who produced a pop video that topped the Japanese charts.