In central Thailand's forests, fertile plains and even city streets, nature finds a way of living alongside people. Spirituality can be found in human and animal relationships, both likely and unlikely. This bustling region is known as the nation's rice bowl - but even here, there are magical places to be found.
In his epic journey across Japan from north to south, James leaves bustling Tokyo to travel to the ancient capital of Kyoto. Along the way he indulges his passions for motorbikes, Japanese cars and culture by painting Mount Fuji, tackling the Suzuka F1 circuit and taking a music lesson from a Geisha. It’s then time for a taste of the future as a confused robot shows James around Kyoto.
Throughout Burma, temples, stupas, and statues of gold pop out in the lush, green landscape. This golden architecture has become Burma's calling card, but how and why did that become the standard here? Join us as we travel across Myanmar, the jewel of Asia, and reveal the history and myths surrounding these shrines, each one created as an offering to the Buddha. We will visit such treasures as the golden pagoda of Mt. Kyaiktiyo, which rests perilously atop a huge boulder, the 344-foot Shwedagon Pagoda, and the revered Mahamuni Buddha Temple.
James arrives on the main island of Honshu, and the beautiful region of Tohoku. He seeks inspiration with a mountain expedition and naked plunge with a friendly wandering monk, battles giant robots, becomes a samurai, gets adopted by some local J-Pop sensations, before embarrassing himself and his hosts on the world’s most luxurious train
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.