Joanna Lumley's Japan: Episode 1: Introduction (04:20)
Joanna Lumley will travel 2,000 miles across the four major islands of Japan, meeting local people, learning about the country's culture, and touring historical sites. The British actress takes a ship to witness drift ice around Hokkaido and explains the trip's itinerary. At the port of Monbetsu, a person dressed as a large seal welcomes her. (Credits)
Island of Nature and Wildlife (02:56)
Hokkaido makes up a fifth of Japan's land mass, but only 5% of the country lives on the island. Makoto Ando, a wildlife expert, invites Lumley to spend the night. Hoping to witness the red-crowned crane, the British actress prepares to spend the day in the cold by placing heating pads on her clothing.
Watching the Cranes (02:05)
In the pre-dawn, Ando and Lumley travel to a local river. As the sun rises the birds take flight; the red-crowned crane only exists in Hokkaido and can live up to 30 years.
Japan contains over five million vending machines; Lumley stops for a coffee. Only two million people reside in Sapporo, making it one of the country's smaller cities. The Japanese Self-Defense Force constructed a 2,000-ton replica of the Church of St. Paul's for the annual Snow Festival; Lumley tours the Snow Festival by nightfall and watches a scene from "A Winter's Tale."
History of Hokkaido (03:42)
Fearing the Russians would attack, Japan colonized Hokkaido and banned any Ainu customs or language. Yupo remembers his grandmother who had trouble assimilating to Japanese culture. His daughter makes traditional dumplings for Lumley and Yupo shows off his samampo.
Lumley travels to Honshu the main island of Japan by ferry; a bullet train exists but does not take cars across the Tsugaru straight. Japanese refused to allow anyone to come to or leave the country until the 19th century.
Rice and Saki (04:08)
In Akita, Lumley sees the rice paddy fields under banks of snow. A samurai ruler declared the sake from the Suzuki Hideyoshi Brewery the best in the country. Yoko Suzuki gives a tour of their modern facility; Lumley helps massage the rice and samples different types.
Lumley witnesses a fire festival where participants swing straw baskets set on fire to ward away evil spirits. A 700-year-old pagoda made of only wood sits on Mount Haguro.
Japan reports 1000 earthquakes annually and possesses 100 active volcanoes. Lumley tours Tomioka to speak with a resident who refused to leave the exclusion zone after the Fukushima disaster. Naoto-san feeds and cares for hundreds of animals abandoned after the power station exploded.
Lumley travels to Nagano to experience the hot springs. That night she stays in her first Japanese style hotel. When she arrives she discovers macaques swimming in the hot waters.
Traveling to Tokyo (04:11)
Lumley leaves Nagono by bullet train. After having some difficulties purchasing a ticket, she discovers bento boxes made for vegetarians. On the next episode of Joanna Lumley's Japan, the British Actress will explore Tokyo.
Credits: Joanna Lumley's Japan: Episode 1 (00:42)
Credits: Joanna Lumley's Japan: Episode 1
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