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NHK – Journeys in Japan (2017) Karatsu: Festival Floats, Deep Community Spirit

NHK Journeys in Japan Collection 1 04of10 Karatsu Festival Floats Deep Community Spirit
Journeys in Japan: Collection 1
Journeys in Japan provides an eye-opening look at the many unique places to visit in Japan. English-speaking visitors travel the length of the country, exploring the culture, meeting the local people, visiting historic sites and offering travel hints rarely found in guidebooks.

Part 1: A Spiritual Journey in Oita
Oita Prefecture, in southwest Japan, is an area with beautiful natural scenery and many sacred sites. It also boasts a remarkable number of Buddhist statues, in out-of-the-way rural locations.
Mark Schumacher has a deep interest in the religious statuary of Japan. He travels throughout the country and posts his discoveries on his web site. On this edition of Journeys in Japan, Mark visits Oita Prefecture and visits some important Buddhist sites close to three stations along the JR Nippo Main Line.


Part 2: Breathing New Life into Historical Buildings
Japan is dotted with buildings and houses with centuries of history, but maintaining them can be economically challenging, and many are in danger of being lost. Enter Jun Tarikino, an entrepreneur who rents these structures and gives them new life as wedding halls, restaurants and more. We’ll take a look at Tarikino’s current project and see how this entrepreneur is using his business talents to preserve these structures’ history and culture and pass them on to the next generation.


Part 3: Hokaido Sculpting Winters Ice and Snow
In winter, Hokkaido is covered by a deep blanket of snow and the land lies dormant. But for the people who live in Japan’s northernmost main island, this season offers an opportunity for creativity and community spirit. Every year, they illuminate the midwinter landscape with spectacular displays of ice, snow and light. The biggest and best known is the Sapporo Snow Festival. During the same period, other festivals take place in Hokkaido, including the Otaru Snow Light Path and the Lake Shikotsu Ice Festival.
On this episode of Journeys in Japan, British sculptor Kate Thomson visits the 3 festivals to view the creations and meet some of the people who help to make them.


Part 4: Karatsu Festival Floats Deep Community Spirit
Karatsu Kunchi is a 3-day festival held in November each year in Karatsu City, Saga Prefecture. The highlight is the gigantic floats known as hikiyama that are hauled through the streets of the old town. This tradition has a history dating back more than 300 years. In 2016, the festival was included in UNESCO’s intangible cultural heritage list.
On this episode of Journeys in Japan, Kyle Card visits Karatsu to discover the spirit of Kunchi. He observes the 14 floats, which each belong to a different neighborhood. And he meets some of the men who make this event happen.


Part 5: Nagara River Pristine Beauty Waterborne Bounty
The Nagara River runs for 166 kilometers through the heart of Gifu Prefecture, in central Japan. Although some 830,000 people live along the river banks, the water is renowned throughout Japan for its pristine clarity. It is also famous for its abundant ayu (“sweetfish”), a species of freshwater fish that only live in unpolluted waterways, and which make a summer specialty for food lovers across the country.
John Moore was born in Ireland but has lived in Japan for 30 years. On this episode of Journeys in Japan, John explores the Nagara River, meeting with residents who feel a strong bond with this waterway and who work hard to keep the river clean and clear. Their efforts are maintaining the habitat of the ayu fish and supporting the work of local artisans.


Part 6: Oita Rest and Recuperation Onsen Style
Oita Prefecture in Kyushu is one of Japan’s best known places for onsen – or hot springs. The city of Beppu is especially famous for its numerous hot spring sources and the volume of hot water – and it attracts many tourists. Marie Krause is from Aachen, in Germany, which is also famous as a resort with many hot springs. On this episode of Journeys in Japan, Marie visits Beppu to discover the many different kinds of hot springs in the city. And she enjoys Japan’s traditional onsen culture to its fullest.


Part 7: Passage of Time Lake Towada in Autumn
Lake Towada-on the border of Aomori and Akita prefectures-is one of Japan’s most scenic spots. The large, double caldera lake is part of a national park. It is surrounded by deciduous broadleaved forest, which bursts into a riot of color in the fall. Kosaka is about 40 minutes by car from the lake. The old mining town was once prosperous. The town’s many elaborate buildings, blending Western architectural elements, are a testament to its affluence. On Journeys in Japan, we explore the nature around Lake Towada, old copper mines and unique 20th-century architecture.


Part 8: SABAE Eye on Design
Sabae City, located on the Sea of Japan in central Fukui Prefecture, has a population of about 70,000. Sabae is renowned as a center for craftsmanship since olden times. It produces 90% of all eyewear frames sold in Japan and produces more than 80% of lacquerware used in restaurants across the country. The textile industry is another leading engine of Fukui business.
In terms of eyeglasses, our traveler Cyril Coppini learns about its local history and tries his hand at frame-making. In the arena of lacquer, he visits a master artisan at his workshop for an in-depth look at how it’s made. As for textiles, Cyril meets a woman who is preserving, and passing on, the skills for weaving a traditional fabric called, Ishidajima.


Part 9: Yokkaichi Bringing Back the Skies
On this journey, we visit Yokkaichi in northern Mie Prefecture, central Japan. This industrial city, with a population of just over 300,000, is home to Japan’s first petrochemical complex. It’s known as the place where air pollution from sulfurous acid gas emissions caused respiratory diseases, called “Yokkaichi asthma”, in the 1960’s. Thanks to sweeping environmental protection measures, the environment has been vastly cleaned up, and the petrochemical complex has become a source of tourism-especially its nighttime factory cruises. The city is also famous for its ceramic ware, called Banko-yaki. Some local studios offer pottery-making workshops.


Part 10: Manazuru Good Living by Design
Manazuru has thrived on quarrying and fishing since olden times. On Journeys in Japan, Kyle Card discovers this small coastal town near Tokyo and its simple attractions, which remain intact not by chance, but by design. The vibrant, civic-minded residents are behind Manazuru’s nostalgic landscape.

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