Next Episode of Japanology Plus is
Season 2021 / Episode 22 and airs on 28 October 2021 14:30
Going a step further from our previous series BEGIN Japanology, host Peter Barakan visits experts in various fields to show Japanese culture from a new perspective.
It's common to find robots in factories, assembling products. But recently, Japan has been embracing personal robots: devices designed to aid conversation, provide companionship and offer emotional support. Innovative new examples are constantly hitting the market. Our guest is robotics researcher Niiyama Ryuma. He introduces us to the latest personal robots, and talks about his own research. He explains his vision of a future where robots are a part of people's families.
After scissors arrived in Japan, they evolved in unique ways. Japanese artisans applied traditional sword-making techniques to the creation of a broad variety of highly specialized and customized tools. Our guest is Kawasumi Masakuni, a third-generation maker of bonsai scissors. He demonstrates several different types and talks about the latest innovations. He also comments on changing perceptions of bladed tools in Japan, and his hopes for the future.
In Japan, a great number of places, objects and customs are considered to be auspicious. Examples include beckoning cats called "maneki neko," and a special meal eaten on New Year's Day. Our guest is Shintani Takanori, who has been studying folk customs for many years. He explains the rituals and beliefs associated with visiting a shrine. He describes the complex meaning behind well-known customs. And he talks about a Japanese tendency to keep seeking out new sources of good fortune.
Tatami mats are a quintessentially Japanese flooring material. They're made of rice straw, covered in woven soft rush. This gives them just the right amount of give, and a fresh natural fragrance. Tatami rooms are used for eating, sleeping and relaxing. They're also important for the tea ceremony and martial arts. Our guest is Koshima Yusuke, one of Japan's leading young architects. He talks about the positive qualities of tatami, and discusses potential new uses in the modern era.
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