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 Japanophiles series, which features lively interviews with foreigners living in Japan. Minyo is Japanese folk music, passed down from generation to generation all over Japan. A Canadian named Maud Archambault became enthralled with the world of minyo 13 years ago - and now she is a professional minyo dancer. She can also sing and play the taiko drums and shamisen. We'll see how she has devoted herself to this uniquely Japanese music.
What gives Japanese kimonos their luxurious appeal? Pure silk, a natural fiber made from the cocoons of the silkworm. Strong and elastic, silk is used to make strings for the shamisen, as a canvas for Japanese paintings, and these days it is being applied in medicine. With our expert guest, Takayuki Nagashima, who knows a great deal about silk and silkworms, we explore the importance of silk to Japan's culture and way of life. And in Plus One, the wonders of wild silk.
Hidden beneath Tokyo are underground spaces of many kinds: intricate webs of subways and roads, tunnels carrying utilities, and even shopping malls. This time on Japanology Plus, our topic is "Underground Tokyo". We'll explore the subterranean spaces that keep this mega-city functioning. Our expert guest is Taro Kasuya, who served for many years as an engineer for underground infrastructure in Greater Tokyo. And in Plus One, some amazingly efficient underground storage spaces.
From volcanic eruptions to torrential rain, Japan is one of the world's most disaster-prone countries. Earthquakes, too, are common. To ensure people are ready to look after themselves and their communities, Japan spends more time and energy on being prepared for earthquakes than any other country. Our expert guest this time is Minoru Watanabe, a journalist who covers disaster preparedness and risk management. And in Plus One, how to put together an emergency bag.
This time, we present an installment of our special Japanophiles series, which features lively interviews with foreigners living in Japan. With economies in Asia growing, air travel in the region is booming, and Japanese airlines are playing up Japan's unique hospitality. Jorge Cabeza Fernandez is a Spaniard who works at one of Japan's biggest airlines. He's currently an instructor at the airline's training center, teaching cabin attendants the art of Japanese service...with a global twist.
This time, we present an installment of our special Japanophiles series, which features lively interviews with foreigners living in Japan. Japan serves as the base for the essayist and novelist Pico Iyer, whose writing ranges across stories and literary profiles to accounts of travel to far-flung places. Born in England to Indian parents, he achieved early success as a writer in New York City, but soon left it all behind to move to Kyoto. What is this eloquent globetrotter's take on Japan?
Okinawa Prefecture, the southern tip of Japan, was once home to the ancient independent kingdom of Ryukyu. Through centuries of trade with other countries, the islands of Okinawa developed a unique, international culture, an important part of which is a deep-rooted love of dance. This performing arts tradition has been passed down to this day. This week, our topic is Okinawan dance, and our expert guest is Izumi Higa, an award-winning performer and instructor. And in Plus One, Okinawan performing arts for beginners!
While Japan is halfway around the globe from the world's traditional whisky-making centers, in recent years premium Japanese whiskies have been winning top prizes in big competitions and winning fans in many countries. But these achievements are actually the culmination of decades of passionate efforts by dedicated professionals. Our expert guest this time is Mamoru Tsuchiya, editor-in-chief of a Japanese magazine devoted to whisky. And in Plus One, the perfect ice "sphere" for whisky on the rocks.
Japanese women are among the world's most passionate about skin care. For centuries, elite and commoners alike have embraced the quest for perfect skin, with Japan's climate and beauty ideals giving rise to a characteristic style of skin care. This time we unveil Japan's image of perfect skin and how to achieve it with the help of expert guest Kaori Ishida, a university professor who's engaged in research on the philosophical underpinnings of beauty. And in Plus One, we meet a beauty witch.
In this edition of of Japanology Plus, host Peter Barakan pays a visit to the city of Sakai, which is part of Osaka Prefecture in Western Japan. Sakai has been known for bladesmithing since the Muromachi period (1333–1568), The emergence of sushi as the fast food of the age called for a range of knives for street-side vendors. The bonsai tradition, meanwhile, spawned a range of delicate shears and squeeze-scissors, a genre of tool that was also turned to the shaping of wagashi confections for the tea ceremony, and the fashion and beauty needs of an increasingly style-conscious populace. Indeed, this is the area of Japanese bladesmithing that continues to evolve.
Plants, all kinds of creatures and the beauty of nature are among the inspirations for Japanese family crests. Tens of thousands of different crests exist. Simple yet highly sophisticated, they have been part of everyday life in Japan for centuries. While they continue to adorn formal garments such as those worn to a wedding, family crests have recently been attracting fresh attention for their beauty as pure designs. Our expert guest, Hitoshi Takasawa, has spent many years researching family crests. And in Plus One, an introduction to the art of monkirigata.
In Japan, a traditional breakfast consists of steamed rice with miso soup and other side dishes. But these days noodles, pancakes, bread and granola are among the many other popular options for breakfast. This time on Japanology Plus, our topic is breakfast. We'll see what favorite foods, old and new, the Japanese eat to start the day. Our expert guest is Chieko Mukasa, a food journalist who traveled far and wide to write a book about Japanese breakfasts. And in Plus One, how to make great tamago-kake-gohan: raw egg mixed with steamed rice.
This edition of Japanology Plus is yet another opportunity to consider two quintessential characteristics of Japanese culture: kaleidoscopic manifestations of any social phenomenon that is perceived to have value, and a passionate attention to detail when one becomes strongly attached to any specific aspect of that phenomenon. The social phenomenon in this case is what we wear on our feet, and Peter Barakan visits a museum that showcases footwear from Japan and the world. Reporter Matt Alt, meanwhile, shows us a great example of "passionate attention to detail" when he discovers the tender loving care that can be devoted to the simple act of polishing one's shoes.
Japan is a country of 10 million runners and some 2,000 open-entry running events, the most popular of which attract large crowds and live nationwide TV coverage. Japan loves not just the action but also the drama of an event such as ekiden, a unique form of long-distance relay with a century of tradition. This time our theme is running. Our expert guest, sports journalist Akemi Masuda, is herself a former Olympic marathon runner. And in Plus One, we experience the fun of a local running event.
Messages and e-mail are full of emoji, a means of communication that was invented in Japan. Emoji debuted in the 1990s as a way to add emotion to messages on a small screen, and people found they were a great tool for maintaining smooth interaction. This time on Japanology Plus, our theme is emoji, now indispensable to digital messaging in Japan. Our expert guest is Matt Alt, the regular Plus One reporter who is also the author of a book on emoji. And in Plus One, we look at the creative world of Japanese emoticons.
In Japan, no leisure trip by rail would be complete without an ekiben: a boxed meal sold at the station that is packed with local flavor. Ekiben are nearly as old as Japan's railways, and have evolved with the passing years. These days, they're even playing a role in stimulating local economies. Our expert guest, Shinobu Kobayashi, is a travel writer who has been eating 20 different ekiben each week on her travels around Japan over the last 20 years. And in Plus One, how to make a bento box.
Japan's first bicycles were made by former gunsmiths around the 1870s. Mid-20th century innovations aimed at women gave rise to the "mama-chari," a type of bicycle for mothers with small children. Today, annual production of bicycles in Japan is about 9 million, and many of the world's major bicycle makers source most of their parts from Japan. Our expert guest, former bicycle racer Masayuki Hasebe, is a champion of everything to do with bicycles. And in Plus One, the thrill of mama-chari racing.
A garment that embodies Japanese tradition, the kimono fascinates people the world over. It took centuries for the kimono to reach the form familiar to us today, and at every stage in its evolution it has reflected both the aesthetics and practical ingenuity of the Japanese. This time, our theme is the kimono: a wearable canvas for traditional art, craft and design. Our expert guest is Setsuko Ishida, a kimono stylist. And in Plus One, how to look good in a yukata.
The plain, unassuming wooden dolls called kokeshi are believed to have originated about 200 years ago in hot spring resorts in northeast Japan. A popular souvenir for children, they later drew the attention of collectors and these days are captivating a new generation of fans. Our expert guest, Yosuke Jikuhara, is a designer of posters and toys who has written a book about kokeshi and these days acts as a spokesman for their unique appeal. And in Plus One, we meet two enthusiastic kokeshi collectors.
What are the secrets of Japan's many centuries-old firms? Each time, Peter Barakan meets experts with fascinating cultural insights, while Matt Alt presents an entertaining take on the same theme.
A soba chef from Bangladesh who has put down roots in Japan. In a Japanophiles interview with Peter Barakan, Rezaul Karim Chowdhury talks about his struggle to master the making of soba noodles.
Toilets in Japan date back 2,000 years. A modern one typically features a heated seat and electronic bidet. Recent trends include new toilets for the elderly and infirm, and for use after a disaster. Our expert guest, architect Shiohiko Takahashi, is a leading researcher and designer of toilets who has surveyed public toilets throughout Japan. This time on Japanology Plus, we'll see how the Japanese relate to an essential everyday item. And in Plus One, a look at state-of-the-art public toilets.
Few countries in the world can boast as many bridges as Japan. Due to a mountainous terrain and many rivers, Japan has bridges of all shapes and sizes, and is a world leader in bridge engineering. This time on Japanology Plus, our topic is bridges. We examine traditional and cutting-edge bridge technology with the help of our guest Teruo Hirano, an expert on bridge design and an accomplished bridge photographer. And in Plus One, we find out what goes into the maintenance of a massive suspension bridge.
Enjoyed by Japanese of all ages, choral singing is a feature of school events, tour buses, baseball games and various other everyday situations. Group singing comes from a background of using songs to drive home ethical principles and lessons from history. On this edition of Japanology Plus, we see and hear why the Japanese love singing together. Our guest Hiroshi Watanabe, a musicologist, analyzes various types of social change through the lens of music. And in Plus One, a look at Japan's national anthem.
What does it take to restore a castle to its former glory? Each time, Peter Barakan meets experts with fascinating cultural insights, while Matt Alt presents an entertaining take on the same theme.
Japan is a volcanic hotspot, with 7 percent of all the world's volcanoes. The archipelago actually contains 110 active volcanoes, and throughout history, Japan has been at the mercy of the terrifying power of volcanoes.
Secondary schools in Japan offer extracurricular pursuits where students join sports teams, or clubs reflecting a wide range of cultural interests. Here, they learn values like cooperation and social etiquette: fundamental aims of Japanese schooling. This time on Japanology Plus, we explore afterschool activities and why Japanese students put so much effort into them. Our expert guest, Atsushi Nakazawa, studies education and the sociology of sports. And in Plus One, the key role of club captain.
Breath mints, sprays and countless other products that tackle body odors offer evidence of widespread concern about smells. Japan has certified professionals who investigate offensive odors, and even a fire alarm that uses the power of smell. This time on Japanology Plus, our subject is smells. We explore how the Japanese relate to different aromas. Our expert guest is Masahiro Watanabe, an expert on smells who has studied their role in Japanese culture and business. And in Plus One, the ABCs of smell sleuthing.
No traditional Japanese home is complete without items that incorporate paper, including doors and sliding screens. Japanese papermaking technology continues to advance in the form of high-tech tissues and even "paper" that is stronger than steel. This time on Japanology Plus, our theme is paper. Our expert guest is Naohiko Tsujimoto, who spent 25 years at a papermaking company before devoting himself to spreading awareness of Japan's paper culture. And in Plus One, how to repaper a shoji screen.
This time, we present an installment of our special Japanophiles series, which features lively interviews with foreigners living in Japan. The trademark alcoholic beverage of Okinawa, Japan's southernmost prefecture, is awamori. It is said to be Japan's oldest distilled spirit, and it is traditionally aged in ceramic pots. Paul Lorimer, who has lived in Okinawa for 36 years, is a potter who creates a diverse range of ceramics, but his signature product is superb vessels for aging awamori.
Katsuobushi: hard blocks of smoked skipjack tuna that are shaved to make flakes which add goodness to soup stock. A method of smoking skipjack was developed centuries ago, and the same basic technique is still used. Our expert guest, Norinaga Oishi, is the president of the Japan Katsuobushi Association. This time on Japanology Plus, our theme is katsuobushi. We'll see how this culinary treasure is produced and relished in Japan. And in Plus One, we see how katsuobushi is used in Okinawan cuisine.
With more women in Japan entering the workforce, day care for small children is a hot topic. While big cities have too few day-care center, elsewhere many are closing down. This time on Japanology Plus, we look at the changing circumstances of day care.
From a rainbow of flavored chocolates to regional treats, Japanese sweets and snacks are tasty, and great to look at. Various kinds of snack foods became widely sold more than a century ago when Western-style sweets started to be made in Japan. This time on Japanology Plus, we explore how these treats are woven into Japan's way of life. Our expert guest, Eiichi Futatsugi, is well versed in the marketing and culture of Japanese snacks and sweets. And in Plus One, the basics of candy sculpture.
One survey of foreign visitors to Japan revealed that 40% of women from other parts of Asia want to try a Japanese beauty parlor. This is one indication of the great appeal of Japan's hair salons, where the customer generally enjoys exceptionally attentive and meticulous service from the moment he or she enters the premises for the first time. Our expert guest is Katsuyoshi Osawa, a former barber who has been teaching hairdressing for 30 years. And in Plus One, the ultimate barbershop experience.
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