Next Episode of Japanology Plus is
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.
This time, we present an installment of our special talk-show series Japanophiles, which features lively interviews with foreigners living in Japan. Bartholomeus Greb, originally from Poland, works as the manager of Kiya Ryokan, a historic inn founded in 1911. Greb is experimenting with ways to showcase the appeal of old-fashioned Japan, including promoting work by local artisans. Meet Bartholomeus Greb and learn about his efforts to reinvigorate his area from his base at the Kiya Ryokan.
This time, another installment of our special talk-show series Japanophiles, featuring lively interviews with foreigners living in Japan. Ivan Vartanian, a photobook producer from the US, has won the trust of Japan's leading photographers. In Japan, photobooks are artworks in their own right. Vartanian collaborates with photographers, turning their visions into photobooks - which often go beyond the conventional book format. We'll see how he's continually seeking out new modes of expression.
This time, another installment of our special talk-show series Japanophiles, which features lively interviews with foreigners living in Japan. New Zealander Alex Bennett studies the way of the samurai - bushido - and its expressions in martial arts. Through decades of practising kendo, Bennett has learned bushido is not about winning or losing, but about being self-possessed while living life to the fullest. We'll discover how he is bringing samurai philosophy to life in the modern world.
The Seikan Tunnel, the world's longest undersea tunnel, connects the Japanese islands of Honshu and Hokkaido. Making it took 24 years, and the enormously challenging work claimed many lives. This time on Japanology Plus, we'll dig deep into the dedicated effort and technological knowhow that helped to create the Seikan Tunnel. Our expert guest is Toshio Kadoya, who worked on construction of the tunnel for 18 years. And in Plus One, we look at a ferry service that predated the Seikan Tunnel.
The "snow country" that covers nearly half of Japan gets huge amounts of snow every year. Local people have devised various practical ways of coping with harsh winters, and in recent years, innovative ways of attracting visitors have been breathing new life into the region. This time on Japanology Plus, Natsuo Numano, a professor who has pioneered the field of snow country studies, will guide us through Japan's snow country. And in Plus One, learn the secrets of shoveling snow the right way!
Japanese comedy has always been different from Western comedy, with its own approach to getting laughs. Japan has a stunning diversity of humorous entertainment - stand-up, sketch comedy, theatrical shows - and it's starting to find an audience abroad. This time on Japanology Plus, our theme is comedy: we'll get to the heart of the Japanese sense of humor. Our expert guest is Chad Mullane, an Australian who's been doing comedy in Japan for over 15 years. And in Plus One, a trip to comedy school!
The Tokyo Metropolitan Expressway is the capital city's most important road system. Begun 50 years ago, with a 4.5-kilometer stretch built for the 1964 Olympics, it is today a massive, complex web of roads that runs more than 300 kilometers and carries more than 1 million vehicles per day. Our guest this time is Kenichi Kawabe, an expert on transportation systems and the technology used to build them. And in Plus One, navigating the expressway like a pro!
Cherry blossom season in Japan is also a season of change. In late March, graduations take place all across the country. Early in April, students and workers attend entrance ceremonies for their new schools and companies. This period also marks the turn of the financial year, as well as a fresh emotional start for many Japanese. Our expert guest this time is the writer and cultural commentator Hisafumi Iwashita. And in Plus One, a unique kind of memento related to this season of change.
To many foreign visitors, Japan's streets seem amazingly free of litter. Making the most of what's available is traditionally woven into the culture of this resource-poor island nation. But, as with other industrial nations, Japan is far from free of the problem of waste. How are the Japanese tacking this issue? This time, our theme is waste and recycling. Our expert guest is Junya Matsunami, a professor who teaches environmental economics. And in Plus One, shopping at a recycling factory!
Plays, movies and TV dramas that depict Japan as it was in the eras up to the samurai times are called "jidaigeki", literally "period dramas". The original period dramas were kabuki plays. The first one on television was broadcast in 1958, and ever since, viewers have been glued to their sets by famous actors playing bold samurai. Our expert guest this time is Katsuhiro Tsuchiya, a senior producer at NHK who is in charge of a period drama series. And in Plus One, transforming into a samurai!
Japan has the lowest obesity rate in the industrialized world, and yet, from schoolgirls to businessmen, it is a country where almost everyone seems to be on a diet. Why is weight loss such big business when so few people are overweight? This time on Japanology Plus, we look at Japan's weight loss industry. Our guest is Kiyoka Wada, an expert on dieting and fitness. And in Plus One, slimming down with a personal trainer.
Giant man-made structures dominating steep canyons, dams are a common feature of Japan's mountainous landscape. Dams provide water, prevent floods and generate hydroelectric power. But all this can come at a cost, with communities submerged and ecosystems disrupted. This time on Japanology Plus, our topic is dams. Our expert guest is Saki Miyajima, a dam aficionado who runs a website called Dam Mania.
Japan's cherished homegrown pubs, izakaya, offer refreshing drinks, comfort food made with care and a lively, fun atmosphere. Most izakaya fall into two general categories: old-fashioned independently run pubs, and chain establishments. Both share a place in the hearts of the Japanese. Our expert guest this time is Kenji Hashimoto, a sociologist who has spent the last 25 years conducting fieldwork in izakaya all around Japan.
For decades, the big breweries dominated Japan's beer market. But in the last few years, so-called "craft beers" from small producers have been in the limelight. Now Japan's craft beers are even winning acclaim on the world stage. What lies behind their appeal? We explore the world of Japanese craft beer. Our expert guest is Ikuko Noda, a "beer journalist and ambassador" who has written many books on the subject. And in Plus One, we'll see the cutting-edge of the craft beer scene.
Fermented foods are a staple of the Japanese diet, and they come in countless forms: soy sauce, miso, vinegar, pickles, natto and more. Because they keep well and are high in nutrients, they were historically favored as energy foods and even military provisions. Studies are now going on to use them to solve environmental and food-supply problems. Our expert guest is Makoto Kanauchi, a scientist who researches fermented foods. And in Plus One, taking on a seriously fermented food challenge.
Japan leads the world in sales of umbrellas, with 140 million purchased each year. In rainy Japan, umbrellas are a must, and on sunny days, many people carry parasols to shield their skin from the sun. Over the centuries, umbrellas have served as fashion accessories and symbols of authority. This time, our topic is umbrellas. Our expert guest is Kotaro Nishibori, the sole manufacturer of traditional Japanese umbrellas in Kyoto. And in Plus One, designing your own umbrella.
In the business districts of Japan, a major battle plays out each year: the job hunt. Students spend their last year of university working to land a full-time job with benefits. Although "lifetime employment" is on the wane, a long career at a single firm remains an ideal. This time, we look at Japan's distinctive system of hiring new graduates. Our expert guest is Taichiro Tsuji, a former HR professional who knows the hiring process inside and out. In Plus One, how to ace your job interview.
This time, we present an installment of our special talk-show series Japanophiles, which features lively interviews with foreigners living in Japan. In the city of Takasaki, north of Tokyo, Amir Takahashi runs a popular bakery. Born in Iran, he moved to Japan at 20 to master the baker's art. Amir spares no effort: he fetches water from a mountain spring, makes his own soymilk from local beans, and uses only additive-free, natural ingredients. The results are both wholesome and delicious.
Despite years spent studying the language at school, many Japanese feel inept at English. Perhaps that's why Japan's English conversation business rakes in hundreds of billions of yen each year. This time on Japanology Plus, we begin a two-part series focusing on English in Japan, and part one looks at English conversation classes. Our expert guest is Ruth Marie Jarman, a regular on an NHK English language education program. And in Plus One, a linguistic experiment on the streets of Tokyo!
Students in Japan receive years of instruction in English, usually starting in elementary school, but how best to teach the language is a question that has never been conclusively answered. In the second of a two-part series on English in Japan, we trace the history of English education in Japan. Our expert guest this time is Kumiko Torikai, a professor of communications famous for her work as an interpreter during the Apollo 11 moon landing. And in Plus One, made-in-Japan English!
Japan boasts many shrines and temples built using sophisticated techniques that have been passed down through the centuries. This time, we feature shrine and temple carpenters, the artisans behind many of Japan's best-known religious monuments. Our expert guest is Hideo Senda, the owner of a traditional carpentry firm that has been in business for 140 years. He will introduce us to some of the ancient techniques found in Toji, a temple in Kyoto. And in Plus One, carpentry with a difference.
Bunraku is a traditional Japanese performing art dating back more than 4 centuries. It combines a stylized narration and music with a cast of puppets so expressive that you can almost hear them breathe. This time on Japanology Plus, we examine the timeless appeal of Japan's bunraku puppet theater. Our expert guest is Hideki Takagi, who does the commentary for the earphone guides at Osaka's National Bunraku Theatre. And in Plus One, the creation of a bunraku puppet.
Every year children in Japan eagerly look forward to their summer vacation, which generally runs from late July to late August. How do Japanese kids spend the hottest part of the year? Between homework, studying for entrance exams, playing video games, and going to summer camp, things can get rather busy! On this edition of Japanology Plus, our theme is kids' summer holidays. Our expert guest is biologist Takeshi Naganuma. And in Plus One, how children enjoy Japan's traditional summer festivals.
From young children to seniors, Japanese people love to swim. In samurai times, swimming gave warriors an edge in battle, and their techniques have been passed down through the centuries.
It's Japan's timeless summer thrill...haunted houses! There are dozens of haunted-house attractions around Japan, many of them at theme parks. These creepy experiences are popular with people seeking to beat the scorching heat with spine-chilling fear, and they offer a distinctive style of fright. Our expert guest this time is Hirofumi Gomi, who has been the brains behind roughly 50 haunted houses in Japan. And in Plus One, eerie ghost art of centuries past.
Japan has a lot of active volcanoes, which means it also has a lot of hot springs. Known in Japan as onsen, these natural baths have brought physical and spiritual refreshment for centuries. They were used in turbulent times to heal wounded samurai, and the peace that followed gave birth to onsen tourism. More recently, new onsen businesses are taking off across Japan. Our expert guest this time is Michio Ishikawa, who has visited over 2,000 onsen. And in Plus One, onsen aquaculture!
This time, we present an installment of our special Japanophiles series, which features lively interviews with foreigners living in Japan. Fascinated with the samurai from an early age, New Yorker Andrew Mancabelli chose a career as an armorsmith in Japan. But there is little demand nowadays for traditional armor, and for a relative novice like Mancabelli, it can be hard to make ends meet. We meet a man overcoming various obstacles in pursuit of his dream to be a Japanese armorsmith.
From compact point-and-shoot digital cameras to high-end SLRs, and those built into smartphones, cameras are a part of everyday life in Japan. Durability, affordability, and advanced features have earned Japanese-made cameras great popularity around the world. This time we explore Japan's fascination with cameras. Our expert guest is Chotoku Tanaka, a professional photographer who also writes extensively about cameras and photography. And in Plus One, how to get a unique photo for posterity!
From the nifty wrapping of convenience store rice balls to intricate cardboard packing, the Japanese have a knack for cleverly packaging just about anything. Both packaging and content receive equal care, revealing important aspects of the Japanese character. This time we peel away Japan's wrapping and packaging to examine the techniques and motivations concealed within. Our expert guest is Shinichi Minakuchi, a veteran of the food-packaging industry. And in Plus One, wrapping with a furoshiki!
From detached homes to tower blocks, from micro-houses on tiny lots to large dormitories, a vast variety of housing is jammed into Tokyo. Many homes feature ingenious use of space, including the traditional terraced houses called nagaya in Tokyo's old-fashioned neighborhoods. This time, we look at Tokyo housing. Our expert guest is Noriyoshi Suzuki, a researcher whose specialties include the history of residential architecture. And in Plus One, some of Tokyo's tiniest storefronts!
This time, we present an installment of our special Japanophiles series, which features lively interviews with foreigners living in Japan. Historically, most Japanese houses have been made of wood. But housebuilding has become more mechanized, and traditional carpentry skills are in decline. One man carrying on that ancient legacy is a Canadian named Adam Zgola. From selecting the lumber to cutting and assembling it, Zgola works as a lead carpenter, handling every step with care and precision.
Scientists think there are around 20,000 species of seaweed. They include many varieties of kombu, a type of edible kelp. Kombu has been harvested and eaten in Japan since ancient times. It is more than just an essential part of Japanese cooking - it is also a symbol of good fortune. This time on Japanology Plus, we'll explore the part kombu has played in Japanese cuisine and culture for millennia. Our guest is Hajime Yasui, one of the world's leading experts on seaweed. And in Plus One, kombu art!
One important part of any trip is choosing a place to stay. And if you come to Japan, you have a wide variety of options, from traditional Japanese inns called ryokan to capsule hotels where you sleep in a tiny pod for one. You can even stay overnight at a temple or shrine. This time on Japanology Plus, our topic is hotels and inns. Our guest is Takao Ikado, a travel industry expert and consultant who works to support ryokan establishments. And in Plus One, the latest trends in capsule hotels.
Since ancient times in Japan, cleanliness has been seen as a moral virtue. It's part of living life well. And now the world is embracing a Japanese approach to keeping things neat and tidy. This time, our topic is tidying up, and how it reflects the spiritual heritage of Japan. Our expert guest is Nagisa Tatsumi, an author who writes about housework and daily life. One of her books focuses on the "art of discarding", and it has sold well over a million copies. And in Plus One, how to clean house, Japanese style.
Mt. Takao, a peak that's visited by around 2.7 million people per year, is less than an hour by train from central Tokyo. This lushly wooded paradise has been regarded since ancient times as a place where sacred beings dwell, and our expert guest this time is Shujin Sato, a yamabushi, or mountain ascetic, who has been training on Mt. Takao for almost 3 decades. And in Plus One, the basics of hiking etiquette.
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