Next Episode of Journeys in Japan is
English-speaking visitors travel the length of Japan, exploring the local culture, meeting the people and offering travel hints rarely found in guidebooks.
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.
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.
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. Traveler Benjamin Boas explores Yanai.
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 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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