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Home • 2017 • episode "3/3" The Art of Japanese Life

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The clean minimalism of the Japanese home has been exported around the world, from modernist architecture to lifestyle stores like Muji. But the origins of this ubiquitous aesthetic evolved from a system of spiritual and philosophical values dating back centuries. James visits one of Japan's last surviving traditional wooden villages, and the 17th-century villa of Rinshunkaku, and reveals how the unique spirit of Japanese craftsmen turned joinery into an artform - creating houses without the need for nails, screws or glue. Exploring some of the traditional arts of the Japanese home, James also investigates attitudes to domestic culture in modern Japan, meeting photographer Kyoichi Tsuzuki, chronicler of Japan's crowded cities and tiny apartments. Other highlights include a performance by calligrapher and artist Tomoko Kawao and a visit to the hometown of architect Terunobu Fujimori.

The Art of Japanese Life • 2017 • 3 episodes •

Nature

James journeys through Japan's mountainous forests, marvels at its zen gardens and admires centuries-old bonsai, to explore the connections between Japanese culture and the natural environment. Travelling around Japan's stunning island geography, he examines how the country's two great religions, Shinto and Buddhism, helped shape a creative response to nature often very different to the West. But he also considers modern Japan's changing relationship to the natural world and travels to Naoshima Art Island to see how contemporary artists are finding new ways to engage with nature.

2017 • Travel

Cities

He explores how the artistic life of three Japanese cities shaped the country's attitudes to past and present, east and west, and helped forge the very idea of Japan itself. In Kyoto, James reveals how the flowering of classical culture produced many treasures of Japanese art, including The Tale of Genji, considered to be the first novel ever written. In Edo, where Tokyo now stands, a very different art form emerged, in the wood block prints of artists such as Hokusai and Hiroshige. James meets the artisans still creating these prints today, and discovers original works by a great master, Utamaro, who documented the so-called 'floating world'. In contemporary Tokyo, James discovers the darker side of Japan's urbanisation through the photographs of Daido Moriyama, and meets a founder of the Studio Ghibli, Isao Takahata, whose film Grave of the Fireflies helped establish anime as a powerful and serious art form.

2017 • Travel

Home

The clean minimalism of the Japanese home has been exported around the world, from modernist architecture to lifestyle stores like Muji. But the origins of this ubiquitous aesthetic evolved from a system of spiritual and philosophical values dating back centuries. James visits one of Japan's last surviving traditional wooden villages, and the 17th-century villa of Rinshunkaku, and reveals how the unique spirit of Japanese craftsmen turned joinery into an artform - creating houses without the need for nails, screws or glue. Exploring some of the traditional arts of the Japanese home, James also investigates attitudes to domestic culture in modern Japan, meeting photographer Kyoichi Tsuzuki, chronicler of Japan's crowded cities and tiny apartments. Other highlights include a performance by calligrapher and artist Tomoko Kawao and a visit to the hometown of architect Terunobu Fujimori.

2017 • Travel

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Part 2

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Part 2

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Indonesia to Australia

The adventurer begins his final leg on the northern tip of Sumatra, near the epicentre of the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami, finding out how the province of Banda Aceh has undergone many changes since the disaster. He also explores the illegal trade in exotic pets in the Indonesian capital of Jakarta, before heading for Australia, the final country on his epic journey. There he visits the unspoilt wilderness of the Kimberley region, meets a real-life crocodile hunter and goes fishing with Aborigines campaigning to stop the construction of a giant gas plant.

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Central

This leg takes Ade across central Africa, from the coast of Gabon, through the giant Democratic Republic of Congo, and on to Uganda. He starts off the coast of Gabon looking for humpback whales. It is one of Africa's best spots for seeing them, thanks to Gabon's vast marine sanctuaries. The country is an eco-paradise, not just in the water, but on land as well where 80% of it is forested. But the country has recently introduced one of the most destructive agri-businesses in the tropics - palm oil farming. Ade discovers how Gabon hopes to do it sustainably. The country has impressive environmental credentials, but on a tour of its divided capital Ade hears that some people are skeptical. One critic suggests it is a way for the country's autocratic ruler Ali Bongo Ondimba to curry favour with the international community. Next up is perhaps the most chaotic and corrupt country in Africa, the Democratic Republic of Congo. Ade discovers first-hand how everyone from the traffic police to the country's top politicians are on the take. He also spends time with some of Kinshasa's musicians and ‘sapeurs' – people who get kitted out in the finest haute couture in one of the poorest countries on the planet. In DRC's far east, he finds out what lies at the heart of the country's problems: a never-ending conflict amongst local militia, fuelled by foreign countries who want to get their hands on the DRC's vast resources. After going on a tank patrol with the UN, he meets Kibomango, a champion boxer who is helping to rehabilitate some of the country's 30,000 child soldiers. Travelling into one of the most famous national parks in the world, Virunga, Ade discovers that few areas of the country have been left unscarred by the violence. And the impact on the wildlife has been extreme, as Ade encounters some of the world's few remaining mountain gorillas. His final stop on this trip is Uganda where he meets Bobi Wine, one of Africa's most outspoken political campaigners. Bobi was recently arrested and beaten, and his driver killed, after his protests drew the attention of long-serving autocratic ruler Yoweri Museveni. Ade meets a defiant man who will not give up, no matter what threats are made on his life. He is part of a new generation of Africans who are fighting to take back control from the post-colonial leaders who have done so much to wreck the continent.

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The Coffee Trail with Simon Reeve

Adventurer and journalist Simon Reeve heads to Vietnam to uncover the stories behind the nation's morning pick-me-up. While we drink millions of cups of the stuff each week, how many of us know where our coffee actually comes from? The surprising answer is that it is not Brazil, Columbia or Jamaica, but Vietnam. Eighty per cent of the coffee we drink in Britain isn't posh cappuccinos or lattes but instant coffee and Vietnam is the biggest supplier. From Hanoi in the north, Simon follows the coffee trail into the remote central highlands where he meets the people who grow, pick and pack our coffee. Millions of small scale famers, each working two or three acres, produce most of the coffee beans that go into well known instant coffee brands. Thirty years ago Vietnam only produced a tiny proportion of the world's coffee, but after the end of the Vietnam war there was a widescale plan to become a coffee growing nation and Vietnam is now the second biggest in the world. It has provided employment for millions, making some very rich indeed, and Simon meets Vietnam's biggest coffee billionaire. But Simon learns that their rapid success has come at a cost to both the local people and the environment.

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Home

The clean minimalism of the Japanese home has been exported around the world, from modernist architecture to lifestyle stores like Muji. But the origins of this ubiquitous aesthetic evolved from a system of spiritual and philosophical values dating back centuries. James visits one of Japan's last surviving traditional wooden villages, and the 17th-century villa of Rinshunkaku, and reveals how the unique spirit of Japanese craftsmen turned joinery into an artform - creating houses without the need for nails, screws or glue. Exploring some of the traditional arts of the Japanese home, James also investigates attitudes to domestic culture in modern Japan, meeting photographer Kyoichi Tsuzuki, chronicler of Japan's crowded cities and tiny apartments. Other highlights include a performance by calligrapher and artist Tomoko Kawao and a visit to the hometown of architect Terunobu Fujimori.

3/3The Art of Japanese Life • 2017 • Travel