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English-speaking visitors travel the length of Japan, exploring the local culture, meeting the people and offering travel hints rarely found in guidebooks.

Genres: Travel
Station: NHK World (UK)
Rating: 0/10 from 0 users
Status: Running
Start: 2010-03-30

Journeys in Japan Season 2010 Air Dates

S2010E01 - Furano, Hokkaido Air Date: 30 March 2010 03:00 -

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Furano, located just about in the center of Hokkaido Prefecture is becoming a popular destination for foreign skiers. The purple lavender fields in summer turns into pure white snowfields in winter. Furano ski resorts offer quality powder snow which is perfect for skiing and attracts skiers from around the world. The winter season in Furano presents various options to enjoy the great outdoors. The most exciting of all is an adventure trip on a dog sled. Our reporter Sotaro Nagasawa visits Hidetaka Matsubara in Minami Furano. Matsubara owns 29 sled dogs which are hybrids of Siberian husky and wolf. These wolfdogs can withstand cold temperature and are good runners, which make them optimal companions for dog sledding. Sotaro, with Matsubara as a guide, rides a dog sled and heads for snow-covered primeval forests which even locals rarely enter. On their way, they stop by at Kanayama, a village developed by pioneers who came to seek gold a hundred years ago. They meet Sato's in the village who showed them gold gathered during the gold-rush and hear about the tales from those years. During Sotaro's three-day dog sledding trip, he sleds as he takes care of his six dogs. The most important point of dog sledding is a trusting relationship with dogs. Sotaro struggles as he goes sometimes left behind by dogs. In the snow, they set up a tent by themselves and camp by utilizing nature's resources. On the last day, Sotaro changes his gear from dog sled to skis and aims for a habitat of brown bears. He finds animal foot prints in the snow and brown bear's claw marks on big trees. This edition introduces you to an adventure which can be experienced only in deep snow of Hokkaido during winter.

S2010E02 - Naoshima, Kagawa Air Date: 06 April 2010 03:00 -

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The navigator for this episode of "journeys in japan" is opera director Dario Ponissi. His destination is Naoshima of Kagawa Prefecture, a small island in the Seto Inland Sea, with a population of some 3300. Naoshima has gathered global attention as a center of contemporary art. Some 30,000 tourists now visit this island from Japan and abroad every year. The Red Pumpkin created by Yayoi Kusama welcomes visitors at Naoshima's main port of Miyaura. The island showcases many pieces of contemporary art in harmony with the island's natural environment. The first place Dario visits is the Honmura District in the eastern part of the island. Here, many old houses and a shrine have been transformed into pieces of art, to form the Art House Project. The old meets contemporary art, coming alive again today with new value. A local volunteer guide Terunori Takahashi takes Dario to see interesting pieces of art around the island, and Dario learns about the relationship between the islanders and art. With contemporary art so embedded in their lives now, some people of the island have even been inspired to create themselves. Akira Kojima who lives in the Honmura District has been making dolls with empty cans for five years now. Though it is a simple idea, it has become one of the signature pieces of Naoshima. The Naoshima Slag Ceramic Art Experience Studio was also set up to offer people the chance to experience art for themselves on the "island of contemporary art." Dario also tries his hand at pottery, following the instructions by the local women, as a wonderful souvenir of this trip. Naoshima is alive with contemporary art. The defining moment for the "island of contemporary art" was the opening of the Chichu Art Museum. As the name "Chichu" (literally meaning "in the ground") suggests, most of the building is submerged in the ground. It is indeed a unique museum, housing works by three masters of light, Claude Monet, Walter De Maria, and James Turrell. The piece

S2010E03 - Kamakura, Kanagawa Air Date: 13 April 2010 03:00 -

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Kamakura lies on the coast to the south of Tokyo, surrounded on three sides by hills, and looking out to the sea. Eight centuries ago, a samurai warrior seized power and set up his capital here. Today on "journeys in japan", our reporters search out the samurai spirit that's been passed down since ancient times. First they visit a shrine called Tsurugaoka Hachimangu. Established nearly 1,000 years ago, it's the best-known symbol of the city. One aspect of the warrior spirit of the samurai still lives on at Tsurugaoka Hachimangu. Engakuji is a Zen temple. It was founded in 1282 by a Buddhist priest from China, who was invited to the shogunate. It is one of the city's main temples. The teachings of Zen were considered very important for the warriors. For about 20 minutes they sit and meditate, facing out toward the garden. Slowly the start to feel a sense of quiet and peace, free from the stress of everyday thoughts. Since the days of the samurai, it was thought that practicing zazen gave the warriors great depths of psychological strength. The philosophy of Zen underlay the spirit of the samurai. That spirit can still be found here in Kamakura.

S2010E04 - Tsukuba, Ibaraki Air Date: 20 April 2010 03:00 -

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This week, "journeys in japan" visits a city of science -- Tsukuba in Ibaraki Prefecture, at the foot of Mt. Tsukuba. In 1963, under a national policy, the city was opened up as a place for research on advanced technology. It's now home to 300 research institutes. Our reporter Judit Kawaguchi discovers the charms of the city and its state-of-the-art technology. Judit visits the Tsukuba Space Center, a research facility that plays a central role in Japan's space development. There, visitors can see a full-scale experimental model of an artificial satellite and experience what it's like inside Japan's Kibo lab on the International Space Station. Judit also tours Tsukuba's largest research facility -- the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology -- to observe firsthand one of the important studies being done there: research on nanotechnology, a field that involves working with objects as small as a billionth of a meter. She also drops in at a robotics company to see some of its amazing technology. Tsukuba is not only a place for science; it's also located amid beautiful natural surroundings, including Mt. Tsukuba, which has long been revered by local people. Judit also gets to spend time with area residents and experience the local culture, including a festival and performing arts.

S2010E05 - Oshino village, Yamanashi Air Date: 27 April 2010 03:00 -

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In this episode of "journeys in japan", our reporter, Adeyto, visits Oshino Village in Yamanashi Prefecture, in the northern foothills of Mt. Fuji., Japan's highest mountain. Her guide is the well-known actor Hatsunori Hasegawa. He lives in Tokyo but he loves the natural environment around Oshino Village so much that he built a villa there seven years ago. He shows Adeyto some of the beautiful spots in the area, and introduces her to the local people. The region around Oshino Village is famous for its high quality spring water. Hasegawa takes Adeyto to a beautiful spring where water from Mt. Fuji bubbles up. They also visit a local couple who have a natural spring on their property and use the water every day. They also meet some amateur photographers whose hobby is taking photos of Mt. Fuji. They have many anecdotes to share about their efforts to capture the best shots of the mountain. On the second day of their trip, they are shown some special decorations for two annual events. To mark the traditional Girls' Day festival, families put up displays of beautiful dolls, while banners with impressive decorations are put up for the Boys' Day. Next, Hasegawa takes Adeyto to meet a local musician. Tatsuro Omata is often called "the musician of the woods" because he transforms bamboo, branches and even nuts into musical instruments. It's amazing to hear the simple, beautiful sounds that he can produce with his homemade instruments. Like many other welcoming people who live in Oshino Village, Omata is happy to live in this wonderful natural environment at the foot of Mt. Fuji.

S2010E06 - Fukuoka city, Fukuoka Air Date: 04 May 2010 03:00 -

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Fukuoka facing the Genkai Sea has been geographically and historically a city open to East Asia. It still maintains links with many Asian countries-- from Port of Fukuoka, there is a ferry which runs between Fukuoka and Busan in the Republic of Korea. Walking through the city, our reporter Vincent encounters a wide variety of things which ties to East Asia. Yanagibashi Rengo Ichiba, a market which is known as Fukuoka's kitchen, offers foods and ingredients which trace their roots to different regions of Asia. Here, various food ingredients represent Asia -- Mentaiko came from the Korean Peninsula, steamed buns came from China and fishcakes (fried fish paste) came from Southeastern Asia. Foods which crossed the sea to Fukuoka were adapted to Japanese tastes and developed a new food culture. How do local people feel about ties to East Asia? TOKO, a Fukuoka-based essayist introduces us to new movements in Fukuoka. One of the new attempts is to present new fashion to Asia from Fukuoka. Every year, local designers participate in a fashion show called "Asian Collection". Seiji Amamoto, a designer who participated in the show, aims to introduce his brand, a collaboration of Fukuoka's traditional silk textile "Hakata-ori" and denim, to the Chinese market. Fukuoka has many foreign residents and there is a new attempt in the music field too. There is a group of Japanese and Chinese musicians who play their country's traditional folk instruments to create a new form of Asian music. At last, TOKO takes Vincent to the best spot for feeling "Asia". It's the food stalls called "Yatai", which can be seen in many other Asian countries. Fukuoka has the largest number of stalls in Japan, about 160. Here, Vincent experiences oddly cozy space where strangers can open up easily.

S2010E07 - Tottori sand dunes, Tottori Air Date: 11 May 2010 03:00 -

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In this week's journeys in japan, we visit the Tottori Sand Dunes, the largest in Japan, in Tottori Prefecture. The Tottori Sand Dunes skirt the Sea of Japan in the southwestern part of Japan. The dunes were created naturally over 100,000 years by sediments carried from the mountains down the river and eventually blown up onto the shore. Our reporter Vincent Giry wonders into the land of majestic dunes and meets people who live together with sand. First, he joins the member of the photography club at the Tottori School for the Deaf. Students who have hearing difficulties tend to have a fear of communicating with other people. The activity of taking photographs of the visitors to the dunes, a major tourist spot, began as a way for students to overcome their sense of fear. This club activity encourages students to proactively talk to people who they meet for the first time. Vincent will find out how this activity made a difference on the students. After enjoying a photo session at the dunes with the students, Vincent sets out to see how "suna-tamago", the sand eggs are made. Here, he has a chance to observe "wisdom for living" based on local traditions. In fact, the secret to the creation of sand eggs was this wisdom itself. How did wisdom inspired making of the eggs? During his trip, Vincent also has a chance to learn about art made of sand, a crop which thrives only in the severe conditions of the dunes, and the research on dunes that is beneficial in arid lands around the world. By coming into contact with cultures old and new, we can see a coexistent relationship between the people and the sand which derived from unique geographical features of the sand dunes and the wisdom and the resourceful ideas that still exist today to benefit the local people in their lives.

S2010E08 - Northern Izu peninsula, Shizuoka Air Date: 18 May 2010 03:00 -

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In this edition, JJ goes to a secluded part of northern Izu Peninsula, facing Suruga Bay. Suruga Bay, the deepest bay in Japan, extends 2,500 meters below sea level. It's famous for its rich variety of seafood. Heda, a small fisherman's town, is especially famous for its catch of deep-sea fish and the Japanese spider crabs-the largest crab in the world, which lives at the depth between 150 to 800 meters. Shigeji Nakajima, who runs a crab restaurant, has been studying the Japanese spider crab for 50 years. Nakajima began releasing egg carrying female crabs to the sea some 25 years ago and people in the town are now working together for the preservation of crab stock. In 1853, when Japan still had an isolation policy, a delegate from Imperial Russia sailed to Japan to negotiate a commercial treaty between the two countries. But the crew was stranded when an earthquake-triggered tsunami destroyed the Russian vessel. Heda's shipbuilders helped the Russians construct a new vessel, the first Western-style ship to be built in Japan. The people of Heda are proud of their history of helping the Russians and spreading shipbuilding technology around Japan. Heda also produces some of the finest salt, using minneral-and-nutrient rich seawater from Suruga Bay. To make the salt, the seawater is boiled down for 13 hours. Careful attention is given to many factors including the timing of scooping the crystallized salt, firing it in the furnace and letting it mature. The Heda salt is full of rich natural flavor. Ose Shrine has a history of eleven centuries with fishermen from the entire Suruga Bay worshipping the enshrined guardian god of the sea. The Ose Matsuri is an ancient festival of fishermen where men dressed as women dance on boats, colorfully decorated with vivid banners and various blossoms. Today, the spectacular festival which takes place on April 4th every year is the most famous event in the region with non-fishermen residents also participating. Accord

S2010E09 - Toyokawa, Aichi Air Date: 25 May 2010 03:00 -

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In this week's journeys in japan, we visit the Toyokawa Inari in Aichi Pre, the one of largest Inari temple in Japan. Many of temples and shrines are protected by special guardian deities which is foxes. The animals are also believed to be messengers of the gods. Such temples and shrines are called Inari. At first they visited Toyokawa Inari temple to pray and see. After pray they got to offer "Syoujinryouri" which is a type of special vegetable cuisine, the meal temple priests typically eat. Also they visited "Reikozuka" where the visitors whose prayers at the temple are answered leave stone fox statues here as an expression of gratitude. There are almost 1000 statues here now. After all they met people who are members of a society for preserving traditional dancers in Toyokawa. They enjoyed to dance with the team. The street in front of Toyokawa Inari is lined with about 60 shops. A local specialty Inari-zushi is sold in these shops. They went to taste 2diffrent kind of Inari-zushi here. Also there are souvenir shops here. They visited a shop where sells traditional fox mask. There are some people from shops who want to activate the town. They are called "Chindonya". They make up as a fox and parade the town with music. Essam and Nozomi joined the parade in this time. After they looked around relating foxes, they went to see real fox to the zoo. This zoo is traveling zoo which is very unusual zoo in Japan.

S2010E10 - Himeji, Hyogo Air Date: 01 June 2010 03:00 -

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On this edition of 'journeys in japan', we visit Himeji Castle, one of the few castles in Japan that have managed to survive in their original form, the way they were built about four centuries ago. Renowned for its beauty, this fortress is registered as a UNESCO World Heritage site, and draws numerous tourists every year, both from Japan and around the world. However, in April work began on a major restoration program. This magnificent landmark will gradually be covered in scaffolding from the bottom upwards; by the autumn of 2010, the main keep will be completely hidden from view. The people of Himeji are concerned that this will mean that fewer tourists come to visit their city. So they have been coming up with ideas to ensure that Himeji remains a major draw for visitors. Our reporter, George Burdaniotis, visited the city to find out what is going on. He met a group that discusses ways to promote the city. One of the participants, local photographer Kazuya Haga, takes George to visit his favorite viewpoints of the castle. George also meets some of the craftsmen whose families have been working in Himeji for many generations. He visits a company that makes the tiles that adorn Himeji Castle, and also a traditional metalworker that began making armor for the samurai warriors 800 years ago, but which now produces wind chimes. Finally, George falls in with a band of 'samurai' in full armor. These warriors are volunteers who gather every Sunday to chat to visitors and pose for photos, giving tourists a sense of the long history of this historic castle town. The start of renovation work on Himeji Castle has led to various initiatives to promote the city. Although the landmark will not be visible for the next five years, the local people will still be welcoming visitors with all their heart.

S2010E11 - Toyama city, Toyama Air Date: 08 June 2010 03:00 -

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Toyama is a city surrounded by tall mountains and has a population of 400,000. It's a place where unique businesses have sprung up since the days of old. Toyama's medicine became famous, in particular, for this gastric medicine, first made here three centuries ago - it's a blend of over 20 ingredients extracted from medicinal herbs found in the mountains of Toyama. The recipe may have changed slightly over the years but the medicine is still used today. Traveling salesmen used to peddle this medicine all over the country. In an age when there was little medicine available, the cures these salesmen offered were very much appreciated. This was how Toyama's medicine spread to households nationwide. At its height, some 12,000 salesmen traveled over the mountains, selling medicine? The City of Toyama is surrounded on three sides by rugged mountains, 3000 meters high. It used to be a very difficult place to get out of. Toyama thrived with maritime trade, with people traveling over waters, and spreading their networks all over the country. The company was founded in 1968 and did not follow the general trend of mass production. And so, it excelled in producing cars with rare and classical designs. The design is based on the Japanese myth Orochi about a great snake with eight heads. He had incorporated the mythological beast into the car's design. The people of Toyama have paved their way with their wisdom and spirit to offer hospitable services. Their strong will to overcome challenges still prevails.

S2010E12 - Naruto, Tokushima Air Date: 15 June 2010 03:00 -

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This week, we will focus on Naruto City in Tokushima Prefecture and introduce people who have made use of the bounties of nature in unusual ways to create products with added value. The sea off Naruto City has a strong current that flows at about 20 kilometers per hour and forms natural whirlpools that can reach a diameter of 30 meters. For this reason, fish that are tossed about in the currents are known in Japan to be tasty. Sea breams are said to be especially exquisite, and the best culinary delights will be shown. We will also visit a popular museum with a collection of artworks made with tiles that have been locally produced using the sea sand of Naruto. Furthermore, we will introduce a festival held in Tokushima, a place that is progressing as the city of LED.

S2010E13 - Miyazu city, Kyoto Air Date: 22 June 2010 03:00 -

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The pine-studded sandbar spans Miyazu Bay, facing the Sea of Japan in northern Kyoto. The accumulation of white river sand over thousands of years sculpted this impressive strip of land, which has been the subject of significant poems and paintings for more than 1000 years. In this edition of "journeys in japan," our reporter, Judit Kawaguchi, meets the warm residents of this gorgeous area where history is very much alive. Looking at the "bridge in heaven" from above is not the only way to enjoy Amanohashidate. Walking across it is also delightful. The white sand beach, with its 8000 pines, has been considered a mystical place since ancient times. The city also prospered as a kimono textile center for several hundred years, drawing buyers from Kyoto. Structures reflecting its past glory can be found in many parts of Miyazu. The city also prospered as a kimono textile center for several hundred years, drawing buyers from Kyoto. Geisha also have a repertoire of amusing parlor games, called ozashiki-asobi . The living art of the geisha has been passed down in Miyazu for hundreds of years.

S2010E14 - Yonezawa city, Yamagata Air Date: 29 June 2010 03:00 -

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On this edition of "journeys in japan" we head to northern Japan to visit a historic city with a warrior legacy -- Yonezawa in Yamagata prefecture. For long years, it flourished as a castle town and was a home to many samurai. Our reporter JJ explores its samurai legacy. JJ first visits Uesugi Shrine, dedicated to the great lord Uesugi Kenshin who was in power about 500 years ago. Yonezawa was long ruled by generations of Kenshin's descendants. In 1871, local followers of the Uesugi clan built Uesugi Shrine in honor of Kenshin on the former site of Yonezawa Castle. At the shrine, JJ meets samurai enthusiasts who show him the appeal of samurai. In fact, Yonezawa is home to a big festival called the Uesugi Matsuri every May. Some 700 samurai enthusiasts from across Japan don costumes and participate in the mock battle to get a sense of what is was like to be a warrior 500 years ago. JJ wears the armor of a 16th century warlord. In Yonezawa, there are lots of hedges with the ukogi plant. Many ukogi hedges were created during the 18th century as part of a clan policy. The lord of Yonezawa domain at the time was Uesugi Yozan, the tenth family head of the Uesugi caln. Yozan conceived the idea to utilize ukogi as an emergency food source. During his reign, Yonezawa's food supply was very tight. So Yozan encouraged people to cook and eat ukogi plant with staples. JJ meets local people who are carrying on the tradition of ukogi dining. JJ caps off his visit by dipping at a hot spring in Yonezawa frequented by generations of the Uesugi clan. JJ feels the warrior's legacy in Yonezawa.

S2010E15 - Geo-touring in Kyushu Air Date: 06 July 2010 03:00 -

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Geoparks, created by UNESCO's initiative in 2004, are aimed for people to learn more about the Earth and for invigorating local economies by using the parks for tourism. This time, we travel by car, starting from one of the geoparks - Mount Unzen in Shimabara, to Sakurajima in Kagoshima. It is a trip to feel the Earth's great energy and to learn about volcanoes and their connections to people's livelihood. Severe eruptions began on Mount Unzen in 1990. We will go near "Heisei-shinzan" peak that was created during the eruptions at the time, and witness scars left by streams of heated rocks and volcanic ash that flowed down the mountain. We will take a ferry to cross the Ariake Sea to go to Kumamoto. We will go close to the crater on Mount Aso, and feel the spooky smoke rising from the bottom of the crater. We will then visit an astronomical observatory (Luna Astronomical Observatory) at a pension in a village at the foot of the mountain. There, we will dip ourselves in thoughts about the Earth and the universe. The trip's last destination will be Sakurajima in Kagoshima Prefecture. Sakurajima continues to spew out smoke even now. It is the most active volcano in Japan, repeatedly erupting 3 to 4 times a day. Our reporter will go around Sakurajima, visiting Sakurajima Daikon radish farms and other places, meeting people living with the volcano. With Daisuke Fukushima who has a doctor's degree in volcanology, the reporter will excavate a hot spring for himself alone. Our reporter will challenge a trip on a 4-wheel vehicle, covering about 800 kilometers, to experience the Earth's energy.

S2010E16 - Mino city, Gifu Air Date: 13 July 2010 03:00 -

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In this week's journeys in japan, we visit the Mino-city in Aichi Pre, the town where famous for Japanese traditional paper "Washi". Washi is made from the fibers of tree bark and all handmade by traditional artisans has a beautiful appearance and texture. There are about 30 artisans who still produce washi in the traditional way. Tatsuo Ichikawa is one of oldest washi artisans in Mino city. He took over from his father in the family business. He explained to us how washi is made. He can only make 300 papers a day. There is a part of town where wholesalers dealing washi was lined. Some of the old buildings have survived to this day in their original form. Kyuu Imaike jyutaku is open for public to see the history of Mino city. Washi is used a lot of different ways. Keiko Ichikawa decided to use washi for material to make clothes. Since the tradition is fading little by little. She thinks that is possible to pass down the tradition of Mino Washi to future generations if she can come up with new and different uses, like making clothes. Also in Mino city there is a cuisine which is made using washi, used as a cooking pot. Vegetable, meat and soup are prepared in pot made of washi, and then put the washi pot on to the fire. Since the old days, washi has been used to make lanterns, known as "chochin" in Japanese. Hideki Haba is now the only traditional lantern maker in Mino. He has a lantern shop on the main street in Mino. He runs a shop with his daughter Hideka. They show and explain how to make the traditional lantern to all people who visit the shop. There is washi museum too. The museum displays various traditional items made of washi from all over Japan. In addition, there's a workshop where visitors can find out how washi-making is done. You can make some washi products here at the museum like a post cards and bigger sheets as notepaper. The whole process takes 20 minutes to 1day, depending on which course you choose. Also bicycles can be rented from road

S2010E17 - Minabe, Wakayama Air Date: 20 July 2010 03:00 -

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On this edition of journeys in japan, JJ visits Minabe, Wakayama Pref., whose products are an essential part of Japanese food culture. Minabe produces more ume fruit than anywhere else in Japan - 30,000 tons every year. The type of ume grown in the area is called Nanko-ume. They are particularly large and flavorful, and are considered the highest quality in Japan. Most of the fruit harvested is pickled to make umeboshi, one of Japan's most distinctive foods. These pickled fruit are really sour and salty but they go perfectly with rice. JJ visits a Zen temple that has a special connection with this ume-growing region. Soten Akamatsu, the priest at this temple, has kept a jar of umeboshi made over 150 years ago by a doctor of traditional oriental medicine. In the old days, this was considered a very effective medicine. Thanks to the thick, lush forests covering the local hills, Minabe is also famous for its premium bincho-tan charcoal. Compared to regular charcoal, binchotan burns for longer and maintains a constant heat during the cooking process. It also cooks foods faster, and draws out their flavors to the maximum. When JJ is introduced to veteran charcoal-burners, Yukio Hara and his son Masaaki, they cook fish over charcoal for him. The forestry tradition that's been passed down since ancient times remains very much alive here to this day. At the end of his trip, JJ meets another ume farmer, Masahiko Gekko, who produces sweet and fruity umeshu, liquor made with ume fruit. He wants more people to discover the rich flavor of this drink, which he prepares from the Nanko-ume fruit that he harvests with such care from his orchards.

S2010E18 - Sendai & Matsushima, Miyagi Air Date: 27 July 2010 03:00 -

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Sendai is the biggest city in northeastern Japan. It's also the hometown of Kumiko Mori, a popular singer and entertainer who appearis frequently on stage and TV. She meets up with NHK WORLD reporter Vincent Giry, and they visit many spots connected with the samurai warlord Date Masamune, who founded Sendai some 400 years ago as his castle town and military base. Every summer from August 6-9, the city celebrates the Sendai Tanabata Star Festival. During the three-day event, the covered shopping arcade near Sendai railway station is decorated with around 3,000 massive decorations, over 10 meters high. These colorful decorations are all are made by hand. Kumiko takes Vincent to one of the workshops where they are made. Next they travel to Matsushima, a coastal area known since ancient times as one of the three most beautiful places in Japan and one that Date Masamune loved. It is famous for its views of the more than 260 small islands that dot the bay and is now is a top tourist destination, drawing as many as 3.7 million people a year. Matsushima has many interesting sites, including an island with great spiritual significance, and a Buddhist temple that was rebuilt by Date Masamune and which is designated as a national treasure. On their last day, Kumiko and Vincent visit a small school on a remote island in Matsushima Bay, where they look in on one of the classrooms. The 34 elementary and junior high school students welcome them with a dynamic performance of traditional drumming. At the end of their, trip, they have a chance to sample one of the local delicacies - oysters harvested from the Matsushima Bay.

S2010E19 - Nara, Nara Air Date: 03 August 2010 03:00 -

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Nara was established as the capital more than 1000 years ago. It was the country's first major administrative center and was called Heijo-kyo. This year marks the 1300th anniversary of Heijo-kyo and the city is hosting many commemorative events, including the unveiling of re-created palace buildings. Our reporter Ayana Fuentes Uno visits the ancient capital, which became the foundation of a nation. The full-scale excavation project began in 1954 in Heijo-kyo. About one third of the excavation was completed in the first 50 years and the work is ongoing. Next they visit to eastern Nara, which has preserved its old structures and natural surroundings.Takabatake then went to Irie Taikichi Memorial Museum of Photography. Irie captured his deep love for Nara in vivid photographs. He focused landscape and Buddhist statues. Lastly, they visit Yakushi-ji. The Emperor ordered the construction of Yakushi-ji to pray for the recovery of the ailing Empress. The Buddha of Medicine, Yakushi Nyorai, is venerated here. One building here retains its original grandeur from 1300 years ago. It's the East Tower. It's the only building that survived the myriad fires destroying the other structures.

S2010E20 - Sekita mountain range, Nagano Air Date: 14 September 2010 03:00 -

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The Sekita mountain range, soaring 1000 meters above sea level, straddles Nagano and Niigata Prefectures. Hikers can now walk along it on the "Shin-etsu Trail." It extends along the ridge for distance of 80 kilometers, from Mount Madarao in Nagano Prefecture to Mount Amamizu in Niigata Prefecture. It opened in 2008, thanks to the hard work of many local volunteers. The Sekita mountain range is known for its virgin beech forests and marshlands, which have been largely lost in Japan. The habitats of many plant and insect species have been preserved here. The site is also a "Satoyama," a place where people coexist with the mountain through small-scale farming and forestry use. Our travelers will spend five days walking the full distance of the "Shin-etsu Trail". Our guide is a nature writer, Noriyoshi Kato. Kato has walked several long trails in Japan and abroad. In 2005, he became to complete on foot the full distance of of the Appalachian Trail in the United States. They take off from the starting point of the Shin-etsu Trail - Mount Madarao (1382 meters high). They come upon a marsh on the first day, which is a breeding ground of the rare Forest Green Tree Frog, found only in Japan. 16 passes cross the Shin-etsu Trail. As there are no accommodations available along the trail, travelers stay at private inns in villages in the foothills, accessed by the passes. The lives of people in the foothills are closely linked with the range. Water run-off is used for the rice fields. The beech forests help store that water. It's an example of satoyama. Our travelers continue along the long trail through beech forests, supporting the habitats of many creatures. They learn about the area's nature and how people have long co-existed with it.

S2010E21 - Uchiko, Ehime Air Date: 21 September 2010 03:00 -

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This time, "journeys in japan" will travel to Uchiko on the island of Shikoku. Surrounded by mountains and blessed with abundant nature it is situated almost at the center of Ehime Prefecture. The town flourished along with the production of vegetable wax in the latter part of the 19th century. Visiting the town is street performer and mathematician, Peter Frankl. First Peter visits the Yokaichi district. The beautiful townscape gave Uchiko its name - 'the town of white walls.' Traditional machiya houses with plastered walls line the streets on both sides for about 600 meters. Some of these houses have been ornately plastered with kote-e, revealing Uchiko's former prosperity through vegetable wax production. In 1982, Japan designated the district as Important Preservation Districts for Groups of Traditional Buildings. It has been a popular destination attracting about 300,000 visitors each year ever since. The town is not merely a historical place, people still live and work here and make efforts to revitalize and maintain the traditions. With a 200-year old history, Taro Omori is a sixth generation Japanese candle craftsman and owner of this shop. Japanese candles have big flames and less soot, and the warm glow has brightened the lives of Japanese people for a long time. Omori coats the wick, made from Japanese washi paper and silk, with melted vegetable wax using his bare hands, a traditional method. His son, Ryotaro has also started candle making and the two generations continue the age old tradition together. Next, a trip out of town takes you to peaceful countryside. Visitors can experience country life and cooking at a traditional inn run by local housewives. The inn provides popular accomodation for about one thousand guests every year. Peter experienced mountain herb picking, tasted country cooking and spent a lovely time in the mountain valley. Many people are charmed by Uchiko's beautiful scenery.

S2010E22 - Ashikaga city, Tochigi Air Date: 28 September 2010 03:00 -

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Tochigi Prefecture is situated in the most northern part of the Kantō region, and is a prefecture that is inland, not facing the coast. Though only 70 kilometers away from Tokyo, it is an area that still retains a lush mountain landscape. This program goes on a journey to visit the people who live in the natural environment of such a mountainous area, taking a look at their work and everyday lives. The first place we visit is Ashikaga Flower Park of Ashikaga City. Though it may seem like a regular botanical garden at first glance, there is actually a fantastic sight here that draws enormous crowds. The tree doctor and director of the gardens Konami Tsukamoto takes us to see the most treasured sight of the gardens. Moving further north, we enter a lush rural mountainous area. Here, we find a plant that grows over three meters tall. Tochigi Prefecture is actually one of the largest hemp producers in Japan, and July is the month when the crop grows most vigorously. While watching how it is harvested, we ask Yoshinori Ōmori about his endeavors in creating new hemp products. Being a mountainous area, many peoples' lives are embedded in nature. So what is it like? Laura Adeyto goes to visit the house of Takeshi Machida, whom she met in Tochigi City, to spend a day of rural life. Going out to weed the rice fields and chopping wood to feed the fire to cook rice, it is all about taking the time and effort. It is indeed a "slow life" experience. People who normally enjoy the convenience of urban life rarely feel the presence of nature close at hand these days. A way of life in nature seemed to emanate a nostalgic feel, something we seem to have forgotten and left behind.

S2010E23 - Karatsu, Saga Air Date: 05 October 2010 03:00 -

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On this week's "journeys in japan," we visit Karatsu city in Saga prefecture. The area, which looks out to the sea, is blessed with a warm climate. People here have long enjoyed marine sports. A legendary French diver had strong ties with the sea of Karatsu. Jacques Mayol was the first man in the world to free dive to 100 meters. And it was a childhood encounter with a dolphin off the coast of Karatsu that inspired him to dive. Our reporter Ian Thomas Ash investigates the diver's deep connection to Karatsu. Ian visits the Nanatsu-caves, where Mayol met his first dolphin. Local diver, Atsushi Takashima, who accompanied Mayol whenever he dived in Karatsu, points out the things that Mayol loved about the area. Mayol also enjoyed the company of the people of Karatsu. He always stayed in the same traditional Japanese inn when visiting. He loved its simple natural aesthetic, and the garden view through the seasons. The inn has long been popular with visitors from overseas. Inn owner, Akihiko Okochi gives Ian a tour of the inn. It's easy to see why people would fall in love with it. In ancient times, Karatsu enjoyed prosperity through its thriving trade with Asian countries. The two Chinese characters of its name reflect this history, Kara is an old word for China and Tsu for port. Ian meets a local fish cake maker, Kazunori Fujikawa. They visit the fish market where Fujikawa points out local specialties. In autumn, the city residents look forward to a major festival called the Karatsu Kunchi, which celebrates abundant harvests. It features a spectacular parade of giant floats. Inn owner Okochi takes Ian to a museum where people can get a close up look at the floats. Ian learns what the festival means to the people of Karatsu.

S2010E24 - Izu-Oshima, Tokyo Air Date: 12 October 2010 03:00 -

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Izu-Oshima, the largest of the seven islands in the Izu chain, lies 120 kilometers south of Tokyo. Because of its size, hilly terrain and tranquil environment, Oshima is a popular training base for long-distance runners. Double Olympic medalist Yuko Arimori used the island as her training base ahead of her successful marathons. In this episode of "Journeys in Japan", Arimori visits Oshima with our reporter, JJ, and takes him to some of her favorite places on the island. They visit the inn that was her home away from home while she was training, and meet the innkeepers, who were her "parents in Oshima." Arimori and JJ are welcomed with a wonderful meal of fresh seafood. They also try their hand at making a gyotaku fish print. The next day they explore Motomachi, the island's main town. There is an interesting small museum that keeps alive the old traditions of Oshima, includes hand-carved wooden dolls known as anko. Walking through a forest of camellia trees, they meet Shojiro Watanabe, a charcoal burner. He has just caught a mamushi viper and he takes them to his house to show them what he does with the snakes he catches.

S2010E25 - Hita City, Oita Air Date: 19 October 2010 03:00 -

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Hita City in Oita Prefecture is a quiet town with a population of about 70-thousand, located in northern part of Kyushu in southwestern Japan. It is surrounded by many mountains, including the Aso-Kuju and the Hiko mountain systems. Abundant water resources flowing out from these mountains merge in the Hita basin. Thus many rivers flow through Hita City and are serving the local people in their daily lives. The Mikuma River crosses the center of the town east to west. Our traveler Max Maconachy visits Yana or traditional Japanese fish trap site at the river. This is a fishing method existing from ancient times. Max also visits a Geta-clog factory situated along the river. Hita is a major cedar growing area in Japan. Making Geta-clogs using cedar wood has been done on a large scale from the Edo Period. We also get to see many new-style Geta-clogs that go well with not only traditional Japanese kimonos but also western-style dresses. During the Edo Period, Hita City prospered under the direct control of the shogunate government. A district in the city called Mameda Town retains street sceneries from the old days. Max goes around the district riding on a rickshaw. He meets with a unique sweets vendor, and visits a local brewer making sake using good-quality underground water. At Onta village where pottery making has been done for 300 years, Max encounters a device called "Kara-usu" used for grinding clay used for pottery making.

S2010E26 - Aizu, Fukushima Air Date: 26 October 2010 03:00 -

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Nelson Babin-Coy is off to explore the Aizu region in Fukushima Prefecture by train. Nelson's first stop is at Yunokami-Onsen. The area is a hot-spring village with many traditional inns and guesthouses. One of the things Nelson wants to do on this journey is to bathe in an open-air bath looking out over the river. Nelson stays in one of the traditional buildings and tastes local cuisine prepared by the guesthouse owner. Traveling slowly by train through this scenic countryside, Nelson finally approaches his destination, Aizu-Wakamatsu. Nelson meets a pair of musicians, who have been performing songs about Aizu. Ryūta Chiyo and Kanako Honda formed their group Nazca six years ago. Chiyo and Honda take Nelson to one of the famous historic sites in the city. Built in 1796, the Aizu Sazae-do is the only wooden building in the world with a double spiral structure. Nelson is also introduced to Masanori Iimori, whose family has been looking after the Sazae-dō for generations.

S2010E27 - Shimanami Kaido: Hiroshima / Ehime Air Date: 02 November 2010 03:00 -

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The Seto Inland Sea located in western Japan is the country's largest inland sea. There is a road which runs across the inland sea and connects a chain of small islands. It is known as Shimanami Kaido. A 60 km long road which connects Onomichi City in Hiroshima Prefecture in Honshu island and Imabari City in Ehime Prefecture in Shikoku island has become a popular cycling route and gathers cyclists from all over Japan. In today's "Journeys in Japan", our reporter Sotaro Nagasawa travels this road on his bicycle and introduces the Shimanami Kaido which allows you to take in the beautiful scenery while crossing the sea and islands in the inland sea.

S2010E28 - A Passion for Industrial Structures Air Date: 09 November 2010 03:00 -

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Adeyto visits three sites, starting in Kawasaki for a night factory tour. Most participants, including Adeyto, are into photographing the urban industrial landscape. What's the attraction of large-scale public works' sites for so many Japanese today? Next Adeyto travels north of Tokyo to rural Gunma Prefecture to take in a vast chamber located deep inside a mountain. The Kannagawa Hydropower Plant attracts more than 10 thousand visitors a year. They enjoy the sheer scale, as well as the impressive cables and turbines. The final destination of Adeyto's tour of man-made structures is a deserted island in Nagasaki Prefecture. Traveling 17 kilometers off of Nagasaki's Port, you'll come to Hashima. Hashima was once a coal mining facility, home to 5000 people. When resources were exhausted, the island was abandoned in 1974. Since it opened to the public last year, 70 thousand people have visited despite the fact that only concrete ruins remain. For many tourists, they find a silent message here.

S2010E29 - Kure, Hiroshima Air Date: 16 November 2010 03:00 -

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Kure is a 30 minute train ride from Hiroshima. The port town has a population of 250-thousand. The historic shipbuilding town still turns out large tankers and other vessels. On this edition of Journeys in Japan, Vincent Giry explores the culinary culture nurtured in this port town.

S2010E30 - Hachimantai, Akita Air Date: 23 November 2010 03:00 -

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Because of Japan's volcanic terrain, natural hot springs are found throughout country. Known as onsen, they are one of the highlights of any visit to Japan. There are more than 3,000 onsen in Japan. And many of them are rather different to typical hot spring spa resorts. There are lots of different ways of enjoying these onsen. Some have become popular among visiting tourists. Others are peaceful places out in the wild where you can sit and soak in seclusion. On this edition of "Journeys in Japan," Judit Kawaguchi is visiting Hachimantai, in the northern part of Honshu, Japan's main island. It's a wild region, about 1,500 meters above sea level, and it's famous as one of the country's major onsen regions. The hot springs in the Hachimantai area have been popular with the local people for centuries.

S2010E31 - Iya Valley, Tokushima Air Date: 30 November 2010 03:00 -

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On this edition of Journeys in Japan , we visit the Iya Valley, in the center of Shikoku. Until about 40 years ago, it was cut off from the rest of the island, this allowed the traditional customs and lifestyle to remain unchanged for centuries. Our reporter, Adeyto, takes a local train into the mountains of Shikoku, following the course of the Yoshino River, the longest river on the island. Adeyto visits a community built on the steep mountainside, to find out about the traditional lifestyle in this remote settlement. The buckwheat harvest is just over and she gets to try a traditional dish made from buckwheat grain. Finally, Adeyto hikes to the top of Mt. Tsurugi, the second highest peak in Shikoku, located at the far end of the Iya Valley.

S2010E32 - Yakushima, Kagoshima Air Date: 07 December 2010 03:00 -

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Yakushima is located 60 kilometers off Kagoshima Prefecture, in Japan's southern main island of Kyushu. It's blanketed in lush forest, and has mountains that soar nearly 2,000 meters above sea level. With its more than 1,000-year-old ancient cedars and unique ecosystem created by abundant rainfall and warm climate, Yakushima has been registered as a World Heritage site. Our reporter, Bene, has long wanted to visit this magical place. She is also looking forward to experiencing the island's famous hospitality. Bene has enlisted the help of a local guide to go hiking. Kazuyuki Manabe chooses a route along a river in the Shiratani Unsuikyo ravine. Their destination is a mystical spot-a kind of secret garden... Bene heads for a place to rest for the night. Inn owner Aiko Nagai, who was born on the island, has a warm personality. She creates an at-home atmosphere, which brings her guests together like family. Next she's off to Isso, which has long flourished for its fishing industry, especially saba mackeral. Local fisherman, Ryuichi Saito, prepares sashimi for Bene from his freshly hauled in saba catch. Bene visits a beautiful beach on the island and reflects on her stay, where she was awed by nature and the friendliness of Yakushima residents.

S2010E33 - Kanazawa City, Ishikawa Air Date: 14 December 2010 03:00 -

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In this edition of Journeys in Japan, Tyrone Russell and Nozomi Goto visit Kanazawa city in Ishikawa Pre. 99% of the gold leaf in Japan is made in this city. Gold has been adding color to Japan's traditional culture. They find out how gold is processed into a thin foil to make gold leaf. And in addition, they will introduce the amazing new gold leaf products developed recently in Kanazawa city.

S2010E34 - Koyasan, Wakayama Air Date: 21 December 2010 03:00 -

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This week on "Journeys in Japan" our reporter JJ visits Koyasan in Wakayama prefecture. It's an ancient Buddhist sanctuary, far removed from the secular world. More than 1000 priests reside in the mountain hamlet, engaged in daily ascetic practices. There are 117 temples in Koyasan, but the whole complex is regarded as one big temple for Shingon Esoteric Buddhism. Temple stays, called shukubo, are proving popular with visitors from overseas. JJ partakes in its various rituals.

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