Carriers of myths and legends, castles strongly mark our imaginations, appearing most often as the pivot of a dark and barbaric period. Reality is different. They are full of mystery and grandeur, emblematic abstractions of the Middle Ages, they testify to medieval civilization.
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.
Joanna begins a 2,000-mile journey across Japan in Hokkaido, where she meets one of the most important animals in Japanese culture, the red-crowned crane. She arrives in Sapporo during the middle of the annual Snow Festival and meets members of the local indigenous community, before travelling into the Fukushima exclusion zone and taking a bullet train from Nagano to Tokyo.
The historian reaches the southernmost stretches of the Egyptian Nile, though her 900-mile journey is not quite over as she joins archaeologists as they extract a giant stone message board from the foundations of the temple of the crocodile god Sobek. Bettany also visits a hotel once frequented by Churchill and says farewell to her boat crew. After reaching Egypt's border with Sudan where Rameses the Great built an outrageous temple to himself, the presenter joins the crowds to witness the power of the rising sun.
In the first episode of this eye-opening series, Giles Coren and Monica Galetti join the 9,500-strong workforce in one of the world's biggest hotels - Singapore's Marina Bay Sands. This epic hotel caters for one million guests every year, cost 3.5 billion to build and was created as part of a government plan to triple tourist income to Singapore within ten years.
Until David Thompson found a route through the Rockies, the west coast was effectively cut off from the rest of Canada. Combined with the unique terrain of the Pacific coast, the result was a different land. The unique cultures, skills and landscape of Canada's far west make it a rich and diverse place - a land of cedar boxes, steam-bent fish hooks and dugout canoes, and a place where totem poles once dominated the landscape and people relied on the sea. Ray Mears explores the area's bushcraft, nature and traditions as he completes his journey across Canada.
This first leg takes him from the rugged coast of South Africa, where he joins the fight against wildlife poachers, through Mozambique, and on to the tropical island of Zanzibar. On the way, he swims with sharks, meets the refugees who have found shelter in a luxury beachfront hotel, and travels on a huge container ship fortified against the constant threat of pirates.