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.
Every year from February to March, ice floes from Russia's Amur River float across the Okhotsk Sea to the shores of eastern Hokkaido, packing against the shoreline. Roman Markovtsev from Russia explores this frozen coast and experiences the winter wonderland of ice, both above and below the surface. He joins fishermen who fish in the traditional way on a frozen lake. And he meets with local people who have taken up the sport of curling in a big way.
Michael Keida ventures north to chilly Hachinohe where he discovers traditions linked to the harsh climate, including an ancient festival, culinary delights and intricate embroidery.
Sarah MacDonald explores Mt. Tsukuba and a blossoming plum grove on the hike up, as well as Makabe's enchanting Hina Doll Festival and other traditions of the old castle town.
Kombu (kelp) seaweed has been an essential ingredient in the Japanese diet for over a thousand years. It is used to make the savory dashi stock that underpins all Japanese cuisine. It also cooked in many dishes to add essential minerals and umami. This kombu seaweed grows in the sea around Hokkaido. In the old days, trading vessels known as kitamae-bune used to carry kombu from Hokkaido to other parts of Japan, traveling down the Japan Sea coast. Toyama was one of the ports of call for those ships, and the kitamae-bune merchants became very wealthy. At the same time, kombu became embedded in the lives and daily food of the local people. These days, people in Toyama use more of the seaweed in their local cuisine than almost anywhere else in Japan. On this edition of Journeys in Japan, Mai Rapsch from Germany visits Toyama to explore its rich food culture and traditions.
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