- A BBC Documentary Collection
- Narrated by: full cast
- Length: 8 hrs and 37 mins
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A captivating anthology of programmes, painting a multi-faceted portrait of a unique country.
Japan is a land of complexity, contrast and contradictions. The world's third-largest economy, it is a powerhouse of innovation and a pioneer in technology, fashion and pop culture. But it also has a rich, ancient heritage and a deep reverence for custom, ritual and tradition. This illuminating two-part radio collection traverses the different aspects of this fascinating country, from its famous historical figures to its diverse cultural landscape.
Part 1: History opens with Japan in Five Lives, in which cultural historian Christopher Harding portrays the lives of five colourful characters from the country's past to answer the question 'Who are the Japanese'? In Killing Time in Imperial Japan, he explores early 20th-century Tokyo, a bustling cosmopolitan capital where the meaning of 'time' was hotly contested. Dark Blossoms sees him examining the doubts and misgivings accompanying Japan's rapid embrace of modernity, while in Japanese Tsunami, broadcasters Richard Lloyd Parry and Matthew Sweet discuss the devastating natural disaster that rocked the country in 2011. In Land of the Rising Sums, Alex Bellos visits Kyoto to ask why Asian cultures seem so much better at maths; in Japan and Religion, Roy Jenkins discusses the place of religious traditions in modern Japan; and in Supernatural Japan, Christopher Harding looks at how the Japanese have used ghosts and ghost stories to make sense of their world.
Part 2: Culture celebrates Japan's art, literature and film. In Japan Now 2020, Philip Dodd talks to writers Hiromi Ito and Yukiko Motoya and photographer Tomoko Sawada about women's roles in Japanese culture today. Meanwhile, in Images of Japan, illustrator Fumio Obata and manga translator Jocelyne Allen discuss Japanese comic book imagery, and we join novelists Kyoko Nakajima and Yuya Sato in conversation with Christopher Harding. Landmark: Seven Samurai and Landmark: Rashomon see Matthew Sweet and Rana Mitter investigating the stories behind Akira Kurosawa's two most influential films, in the company of guests including film scholar Ian Christie and authors SF Said, David Peace and Natasha Pulley. The Tale of Genji takes us into the shimmering world of medieval Japan, as Rana Mitter explores Murasaki Shikibu's masterpiece, widely considered to be the world's first novel. Finally, in Godzilla and Hayao Miyazaki, Christopher Harding considers cinematic depictions of Japanese fear, as exemplified by the legendary monster king and the 2013 animated film The Wind Rises.
Japan in Five Lives - Presented by Christopher Harding. Produced by Sheila Cook. Edited by Hugh Levinson. First broadcast BBC Radio 3 on the following dates: Daimatsu 'The Demon' Hirobumi 26th July 2021, Tezuka Osamu: Godfather of Manga 27th July 2021, Oda Nobunaga: Warlord 28th July 2021, Murasaki Shikibu: Imperial Insider 29th July 2021, Himiko: Shaman Queen 30th July 2021.
Killing Time in Imperial Japan - Presented by Christopher Harding. Produced by Luke Mulhall. First broadcast BBC Radio 3, 31st March 2017.
Dark Blossoms - Presented by Christopher Harding. Produced by Sheila Cook. First broadcast BBC Radio 3 on the following dates: Deer Cry Hall 23rd April 2018, Happy Families 24th April 2018, Rebranding the Buddha 25th April 2018, The Art of the Heist 26th April 2018, Japan Refusal 27th April 2018.
Japanese Tsunami - With Richard Lloyd Parry and Matthew Sweet. First broadcast BBC Radio 3, 19th April 2018.
Land of the Rising Sums - Presented by Alex Bellos. Produced by Alexandra Feachem. First broadcast BBC Radio 4, 29th October 2012.
Japan and Religion - Presented by Roy Jenkins. With Dr Erica Baffelli, Dr Christopher Hood, Kiyo Roddis and Nathanael Ayling. First broadcast BBC Radio Wales, 29th September 2019.
Supernatural Japan - Presented by Christopher Harding. Produced by Luke Mulhall. First broadcast BBC Radio 3, 22nd April 2018.
Japan Now 2020 - Presented by Philip Dodd. With Hiromi Ito, Tomoko Sawada, Yukiko Motoya and Motoyuki Shibata. Translator: Bethan Jones. Produced by Luke Mulhall. First broadcast BBC Radio 3, 19th February 2020.
Images of Japan - Presented by Dr Christopher Harding. With Fumio Obata, Jocelyne Allen, Yuya Sato and Kyoko Nakajima. Produced by Luke Mulhall. First broadcast BBC Radio 3, 21st February 2019.
Landmark: Seven Samurai - Presented by Matthew Sweet. With Professor Ian Christie, Larushka Ivan-Zadeh, SF Said and Dr Alexander Jacoby. Produced by Zahid Warley. First broadcast BBC Radio 3, 25th March 2014.