James May: Our Man in Japan (2020) s01e02 Episode Script

Cabbage Roll

1 JAMES: Konnichiwa, viewers.
As you can tell from the traditional Japanese music coming from my car, - I'm back on the road.
-(J-pop playing) So far, I've had a slide on a sled Oh, God, there's a bendy bit coming up.
(shouts) impressed my local guide with my Japanese cooking MASAYO: James.
- I'm so hungry.
Hurry up, please.
- Yes, all right, yes, yes.
- Come on, number eight.
-and won money on a very slow horse race that was too boring to make the cut.
It's gripping, this.
This time, this (shouts) May I blow your conch? - Yes! - (Maki screams) Somebody else wants to film my lunch? Yes, we are completely naked.
JAMES: My grand tourism from the north to the south of Japan has taken me to Tohoku, part of Honshu, the largest and most populous island of Japan.
This is the land of bustling megacities, neon lights, bullet trains, Tokyo.
But of course, it's not all like that.
Before I hit the big cities, I'm headed west into rural Honshu with my new translator Maki.
(gong clangs) We're in the fruit and veg bowl of Honshu, but I'm on my way to meet a nut.
Apparently, round here lives a rather eccentric inventor of robots.
If I was going to come anywhere to look at robots, the first place I'd think of would be Japan, - probably.
- Right.
(both chuckle) Well, we've got a date then, Maki.
I'm taking you to out to the robot place.
JAMES: Of all the arenas of science and technology, the most disappointing is robots.
Where's my robot butler I was promised? Bah, it's not here, is it? Even the Japanese aren't really that good at robots.
It took them 20 years to get Honda's Asimo robot to walk convincingly, and even then, it still falls over fairly regularly.
But maybe we've got our attitude to robots all wrong.
Maybe robots should be just a bit of a laugh.
This robot cost a quarter of a million dollars to build, and is the brainchild of engineer Nagumo Masaaki.
He's currently driving it, so, like any good insane Bond villain, his face is obscured.
I decide to coax him down from the cockpit to ask him the important questions.
Are you mad? (laughs) May I have a go, kudasai? Oh.
I was expecting that to be a no.
(engine starts) (speaks Japanese) JAMES (modulated): Yeah, robotics is quite uncomfortable, as it turns out.
(laughs) - Right, I'm now turning left.
- Yeah, yeah.
It's very wobbly.
Forwards to Tokyo.
Very slowly.
It would actually take four days to reach the center of Tokyo, even if it could cross the drainage ditch at the edge of the car park, but still, robots! Stopping.
Could I say domo arigatou gozaimashita for letting me drive your wonderful robot.
It's, uh, exactly what a robot should be.
Superb.
(speaking Japanese) Hai.
Was that a good Did he say goodbye, or? MAKI: Oh, there's another thing he Oh, there's another thing.
I thought that was a bit of a sudden exit.
He is mad.
Nagumo is kindly going to let me have a go at driving his seven-ton, 8.
5-meter-tall tour de force.
Okay.
This thing is bigger than any robot I've ever driven before, which was the one outside just now.
And this one also has a design flaw stopping world domination: it's too big to go through the door of its own house.
So, it's forward, back, left, right? - Please, look at me.
- Yes? Yes.
Ah.
Oh, that's fantastic.
But while I'm busy doing the robot, my neglected date has taken matters into her own hands.
(laughs) JAMES: So, that's finger control.
- Okay, so I'm going to go forwards.
- Yeah.
Oh, yes, I can see the finger moving down here on this monitor.
That's amazing.
MAKI: Oh, James, be ready.
I'm coming to shoot you.
That is Maki now on the main monitor, forward-facing camera, coming in thinking she can pick a fight with us with her airsoft gun.
So, uh (clears throat) are we all ready to take her on? PRODUCER (over radio): Fire when ready, fire when ready.
- Here we go.
Maneuvering to the left.
- MASAAKI: Okay.
- JAMES: Okay, okay, and - (Maki laughs) (wind whistling) What we have here is a good old-fashioned Japanese standoff to find the fastest Gundam in the East.
(bell tolls) - (thuds) - (screams, laughs) - Did I hit? - Scary.
What did you do to me? - (compressed air releases) - (laughs) Maki just shot me in the robo plums.
Did you see that? - (shouts, laughs) - JAMES: Did I get her? - Ooh! - Yeah! (laughs) Look, everyone, this is what James May would do to a lady.
- (shouts) - Yes! Too easy.
Everyone Oh, two more hits from Maki.
Hit, in the head.
Time to go in for the kill.
- (thuds) - Oh! (groans) JAMES: Yes! Well, I'm advancing right up on the other robot.
This is ballsy stuff.
(laughing) Tom? The GoPro fall from the window thanks to James.
(muffled chatter) - JAMES: Loser.
- I am running away.
Run away from the beast.
I'm fairly confident I won that, 8-6.
And I've changed my mind about robots.
They're brilliant.
I might even get one.
(gong clangs) It's nice.
It's like a married couple after having a big fight.
- (both laugh) - We are back in the same car.
- But not speaking, yeah.
- Not speaking.
- Just looking ahead like that.
- Yeah.
You were awful.
You seem so, so sweet and so James May, I was expecting you would treat me like a lady and you act like a gentleman, like, from England.
Maybe it's because I'm a cabbage roll.
- (laughs) - Is that right? - Yes, it is, yeah.
- Cabbage roll? Hmm.
Soft on the outside, but then aggressive in inside.
- This is how James May is, everyone.
- (chuckles) - Did you see? - A cabbage roll.
That's-that's a bit of an insult in Japan.
- No, no, it's not insult.
- It's not an insult? Yeah, it's just the three different type of boys available in Japan.
So what are the three different types? One is called nikushoku-kei, meat eaters.
- Meat eaters.
- Yeah.
- Confident.
- Macho, then.
- A meat eater is macho.
- Macho, yeah, yeah, yeah.
Then there's another type called soshoku-kei.
- Soshoku-kei.
- Soshoku is a vegetable eaters.
- Okay.
Soshoku-kei.
-So they are more shy, uh, reserved.
Well, they don't ask girls out and that sort of thing.
Yeah, they are more kind of slim.
Um, then there is another type which is could be you Cabbage Roll.
Rollu cabbage in Japanese.
It's meat in the inside, so aggressive personality, coated - With cabbage.
(laughs) - with cabbage.
Layers of cabbage.
So when you see him for the first time, you all think, "Oh, he's such a nice gentleman, very soft-spoken, uh, kind, uh, yeah, a bit shy.
" But then once you are in his house, when he feels comfortable with his own skin, he will go (shouts) JAMES: No man in his prime likes to be called a grabby cabbage roll by a lady.
So, like the conclusion to all couple's arguments, I leave Maki at the service station and drive off alone, into the wilderness.
You join me at a very spiritual moment.
I am at the foot of Mount Hagaro, a sacred mountain, or at least it is to the Yamabushi monks, wandering ascetics who have populated these forests since the seventh century.
And they practice a doctrine of Shugendo.
What that says is you leave your earthly cares and wares behind.
I did that as I walked onto the bridge.
And then you commune with nature, with the mountain in particular, to develop a sixth sense for the truth.
And that is exactly what I'm going to go and do now.
I'm going to meet Master Hoshino.
Basically, I'm going for a walk in the woods with a top monk.
This way.
Slowly, because it's slippy.
- (gong clangs) - (conch playing) (chimes clinking) Konnichiwa.
JAMES: 72-year old Master Hoshino is a 13th-generation Yamabushi priest, which means that his ancestors would've been leading pilgrimages on this mountain 350 years ago.
This is to make it more difficult to find my emaciated corpse in the snow.
How far is it? - Yup.
- Ay.
JAMES: Shugendo was a major spiritual movement in Japan from the 12th century until 1872 when it was banned as a superstitious religion by the Meiji government.
But nowadays, Shugendo is being re-embraced as an escape from hectic urban life.
It's very beautiful, it's just a bit slippery.
That bit is very slippery.
I'm trying to write a haiku.
Snow on the mountain, priest ascends the icy steps.
English man on ass.
That's very slippery.
(grunts) It is somewhat easier to achieve spiritual dignity when nature has gifted you a pair of spiky boots like Master Hoshino's.
It's too slippery, holy man.
(grunts) (blowing conch) Oh James, mountaintop.
Okay? - Excellent.
Thank you.
-Hai.
Hai, hai.
(chuckles) As a reward, may I blow your conch? Ay.
All right.
I've never done this.
Okay.
(blowing conch weakly) (conch blowing steadily) Okay.
Oh (blowing stops) - That feels quite good.
- Oh.
This is excellent.
JAMES: Blowing the horn had given me a raging thirst, and I felt I'd earned a drink.
Now you join me at a slightly awkward moment because after our very enlightening walk in the mountains, I thought Master Hoshino said, "Would you like to join me in the bar?" It was the bath.
More specifically, an onsen, which is a specific type of bath.
The definition, in fact, has been protected under Japanese law since 1948.
To quality as an onsen, it must be the product of volcanic activity, it must be geothermally heated to at least 25 degrees.
I'm delighted to say this is rather more than that.
Uh, and it must contain traces of 18 minerals.
Um, if you were wondering and to save you starting a rather tedious thread on Twitter, yes, we are completely naked.
And the reason I have this small towel on my head is not because I'm celebrating the British seaside holiday of the 1950s, it's because this little scrap is what I use to hide my "vile body," as Evelyn Waugh would've put it, when I climb out.
The cameras will be cut by then, not because I'm embarrassed, for your sake.
And I'm embarrassed.
(chuckles) JAMES: It's finally time to hit a real city, Sendai.
And as I join the dawn chorus to line up for a very different type of ritual, I'm glad that my soul is now clean and uncorrupted.
(speaking Japanese) (chuckles) Do I look I feel like a pervert.
(laughter) It's 20 to 7:00 in the morning for God's sake.
I'm reluctantly in line for a J-pop gig Japanese pop for you out of touch grandads.
Okay.
Domo arigato.
I've got a hot ticket to see the Zenryokuboys, the Detroit Spinners of Sendai city.
What's impressive about this is that the Zenryokuboys have cornered an unchartered part of the pop market, actually, the 7:00 a.
m.
pop concert.
It only lasts about a half an hour, and it's designed to entertain commuters before they go to the office and schoolgirls before they go to school.
It's quite impressive considering that they're all teenagers and they really should be in bed for another three or four hours.
(crowd cheering) (singing in Japanese) ALL: Whoo! They're quite good, actually.
(cheering, applause) This is the slow number.
(Zenryokuboys member speaking Japanese) (crowd laughs) JAMES: But, no, it's something stranger.
JAMES: I always thought the Japanese were a pretty stoic nation, but the whole place has turned into something Richard Curtis would find "a bit soppy.
" (cheering) - (singing in Japanese) - I love this one.
Just to be clear, my eyes are watering from the smoke machine, even though there isn't one.
I know it's the objective of the crew to try and make me look an idiot on this show, but that's actually ruined me.
I've been with a load of teenage girls to see a boy band on TV.
They were good, though.
I thought they were excellent.
Excellent performance.
I couldn't do that at that age.
I was completely hopeless.
Let's go and meet them.
- Konnichiwa.
Oh.
-Konnichiwa.
- Thank you.
- High five.
- Thank you.
- Excellent, excellent performance.
I feel like the Queen after the Royal Variety Performance, except I actually enjoyed this.
(speaking Japanese) Then the boys suggested giving me my own J-pop makeover.
Please just use your artistry.
And since I'd already blown my hair and wardrobe budget on sake, I agreed.
It's 'cause it's very old.
(laughter) Mending motorcycles.
I have a 360 Benly.
And a Super Cub.
Yes.
JAMES: A very old one.
JAMES: I decided to wrap this up before they started asking me if I was going anywhere nice this year.
- That's good.
Yeah.
- JAMES: That's good? Thank you.
(whoops) JAMES: I was going to have to "Blue Steel" myself for what was next.
Hair was just the start.
Against unanimous public opinion, apparently, I need a new wardrobe.
Domo arigato.
I'm already wishing I hadn't come.
This is quite a cool piece of clothing, um, I feel that I defile it.
(laughter) I like this.
Do we agree that this hoodie's good? WOMAN: If it doesn't look good, I would say that.
Because you're Japanese, you are obliged to be polite and flattering.
It's like you say, "Oh, your jeans are very nice, James.
"Oh, your driving is wonderful, James," but you don't mean it.
You're just being polite.
I never said your jeans were good.
(laughs) If you lot wait outside on the street, I'll make a final decision, and then I'll come and do a reveal, yeah? JAMES: Right, are you ready? - Okay.
Okay.
-Okay.
- Ready, the new me.
(speaks Japanese) Uh - Come on.
It's my treat.
- (laughing) I don't know why I agreed to go clothes shopping.
I already did that in 1984.
Those Zenryokuboys, they're a nice bunch of lads, and I hope they make it big.
I really should have left that final thought there, but their youthfulness got me feeling a bit un-zen.
I really do.
I hope they don't end up 40 years old in a dead-end job, grinding their teeth over what might have been.
I think I'd better leave Sendai quickly and find something much more historical to look at.
50 miles south, in a place called Minamisoma, are the heirlooms of a much older Japanese group.
Now, we cannot really come to Japan without discussing the samurai and their life code of Bushido.
And you might be forgiven for thinking this was all invented by Tom Cruise, but I'm afraid it's actually a bit more complicated than that.
More of this in voice-over.
The samurai were the warrior class of Japan.
Trained from boyhood in the art of war and fanatically loyal to their overlords until death, the samurai and their austere code of chivalry commanded fear and respect for centuries.
Aota-san, who I am about to meet, is a genuine samurai, the descendent of a samurai clan.
And you needn't be alarmed he's not going to shout, "For the emperor," and cut my head off with a katana.
He's actually a retired farmer, and these days devotes himself to collecting and repairing his dynasty's weapons and armor, which he is now going to show me.
And then he's gonna cut my head off with a katana.
Aota-san's home is packed with enough kit to start a small regional war.
For the purposes of historical osmosis, I agree to be dressed in full samurai armor.
I'm trying not to take it personally that everyone I meet seems to want to give me a makeover.
You join me in my thermal underwear.
- Aota-san here - (speaks Japanese) is, uh, going to dress me.
(Aota-san speaking Japanese) These are these are like foot mittens.
This could take a while.
Was all this armor owned by your direct ancestors? Now here we have the samurai equivalent of shin pads.
(chuckling): Or Shinto pads, as they're known.
These, I think are these, these beaten iron? It is.
It's getting quite heavy, and I think my hair may become a part of it.
What if I can't stand up at the end of all this? JAMES: Oh, well, that's all right, then.
The samurai were devoted to a code of conduct called as bushido, demanding loyalty, courage, veracity, compassion and honor; as well as a lifestyle of strict martial discipline.
Stand? Finishing touches.
Oh, I like this bit.
I know a London club were this would be perfectly acceptable.
PRODUCER: Torture Gardens.
I meant the Chelsea Arts Club.
- (producer laughs) - If you don't mind This is a 300-year-old katana, if anybody has anything fatuous to say.
I suspect not.
JAMES: James is looking fabulous today in this 30-piece, cast-iron spring ensemble from ancient Minamasoma.
Perfect for fancy work meetings and massacres.
Mr.
Aota-san's son has gone for the winter look, with matching helmet.
(gong clangs) The samurai might have a long military history, but after all that lengthy dressing up, I'm surprised they didn't miss half the wars they were invited to.
See? I've missed it.
(dog barks) I said strictly no horses.
The samurai fought their last battle in 1877, around the same time a different mode of transport was becoming popular.
Perhaps if they'd just made use of that, they might've ridden on to more victories.
(James sniffles, sighs) I've modernized it.
Just then, I get a phone call from the irate manager of a Japanese service station, demanding I pick up Maki.
We decide to stop just south of Sendai, where Maki says she wants to make things up to me by giving me some tongue.
You should all be ashamed of yourselves.
(gong clangs) - JAMES: So pick a piece up - (Maki speaks quietly) JAMES: Gyutan, as it's known, is thinly-sliced tongue cooked over a charcoal grill.
And since it was first served here in 1948, Sendai has become known as the beef tongue capital of the world.
Mmm! I am a British man doing a barbecue, so that means it will taste terrible.
(Maki laughs) - Ooh, look at this.
- JAMES: Okay.
- 'Cause I want to ask you - Yes.
Oh, yeah, yeah.
Maybe you want to place over here so that you will not touch the the meat juice? - Yeah, that's a good point.
That's unhygienic.
-Yes.
Yes, it's unhygienic.
Excuse me speaking with my mouth full.
It's nice.
Mmm.
It is nice.
- Mmm.
- JAMES: I thought it would be It actually tastes a bit like pork.
Tell me, what do you really think about the British? MAKI: What do we think about them? - Um - Do you think we're a bit smelly and scruffy? No.
Oh, no, no.
It's an image of this.
(laughs) - The queen.
- Oh, cool.
(laughs): It is So, again, we have We call British "gentlemen.
" So they are polite, um, cultured, uh, classy.
Uh, but then, this show has been proving me wrong.
- Oh, okay.
- (laughing) - (woman speaks Japanese) - (laughter) JAMES: Are you not very good at drinking? That is wrong.
Japanese people can hold alcohol quite well, maybe better than British.
JAMES: Oh, possibly.
Domo arigato for bringing me here.
Don't tell me.
Don't tell me.
Don't tell me.
Ah.
You're taking too long.
My foam is getting thinner and thinner.
What's? Give me the first letter.
- Ka.
- Ka.
- Ka.
Kampai.
- Kampai.
- Kampai.
- Kampai.
- Kampai.
- Kam To all those who aren't having a beer, kampai.
Sorry, everyone.
(laughs) Mmm.
- This is great.
- Yeah.
JAMES: Right, then.
Where to next? (man speaking Japanese) JAMES: No, not there.
Here.
As a keen student of haiku, nearby Matsushima Bay holds particular significance.
Now, back in the 17th century, the Japanese scholar Hayashi Gaho identified the three perfect views of the country.
One of them is a sandbar outside Kyoto, another is a temple outside Hiroshima, and the third, probably the most famous, is this one the island group of Matsushima, over 260 of them.
And they're absolutely gorgeous.
And it must be said that the Japanese have even managed to miniaturize the view, 'cause some of these islands are really tiny.
They're no bigger than a garage, and they're all covered in tiny little bonsai trees.
It's fantastic.
Look at that one over there.
One of the best known of the old Japanese haiku is, in fact, about Matsushima Bay.
For a long time, it was attributed to Basho, the greatest of the haiku masters, but actually, more recent scholarship suggests that is wasn't by him at all, because it wasn't recorded until over a hundred years after his death.
But it doesn't actually matter who wrote it, because whoever it was was so overcome with the beauty of this place, that all he could come up with was, "Matsushima ya "Ah, matsushima ya, Matsushima ya.
" Which is usually translated as, "Matsushima, Matsushima.
Oh, Matsushima.
" It is annoying, this.
I've been standing here for something like half an hour, trying to compose my own haiku about Matsushima Bay, and I can see why it was so difficult, because it somehow eludes description in 17 syllables.
Which is quite annoying, really, 'cause I'm about oh, five minutes away from my first lesson in Japanese calligraphy.
And I wanted something nice to write.
I've got one idea.
JAMES: This is Kishi Keiko, one of Japan's leading calligraphy experts.
I hope my poem is worthy of her talents.
J-masu May.
That's my name! - J m - J-masu.
- J-masu.
- J-masu.
May.
J That's how they say "James" in Japan.
They say "J-masu.
" It's beautiful.
It's beautiful because I don't know what it says.
You just think, "That's a fabulous picture.
" If you knew that it just says "James May," it loses some of its appeal, to be brutally frank.
Okay, I'm going to show you my haiku.
- "Ah, Matsushima.
" - Yeah.
"Basho gasharishi.
Oh, Matsuo, oh, Basho.
" - Oh, very good.
- Is it? It means - (speaks Japanese) - "Ah, Matsushima.
"Basho has long departed.
We are lost for words.
" Within moments, sensei Keiko has rendered my haiku into the cursive style of calligraphy the quickest, and hopefully simplest, type for me to attempt to copy.
So what we have here is Um, this is quite common.
It's a combination of kanji, which is the pure pictorial language, which was adopted from the Chinese, and hirigana, which is more like a It's-it's closer to our writing.
It is phonemes or vowel sounds or letters, as single squiggles, but they can be combined.
So this is a mixture of the two, which is why some of it looks like pictures, some of it almost looks like Arabic.
One - (speaking Japanese) - This is tremendously good fun.
KEIKO: Slide.
Slide.
- Mm - You're okay.
- All right, shall we do a - Uh sensei versus student comparison? KEIKO: Oh.
(Keiko laughs) Sumimasen.
(laughs) JAMES: Oh.
Sumimasen.
I know.
Uh, here is my gift to you.
- (laughs) -Domo arigato.
Thank you.
JAMES: What I lack in brushmanship, I make up for in cunning.
- (speaking Japanese) - That was what I was hoping for.
Domo arigato gozaimas.
(speaking Japanese) What an excellent exchange.
I now own my haiku, but written by a master.
That is priceless.
That was fantastic.
I loved that.
And, finally the mystery of Matsushima is recorded in verse on paper for posterity.
Remember you saw it here first.
The islands of Matsushima are not just aesthetically inspiring.
They also buffered the bay from the worst of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.
The magnitude-nine earthquake was so massive, it moved Honshu island eastward by eight feet.
Over 15,000 people died in the tsunami, and two and a half thousand are still unaccounted for.
And in Fukushima, the tsunami caused three reactor core meltdowns at the nuclear power station, the second-worst nuclear accident in history.
So, in a few kilometers time, we're going to get to the edge of the restricted zone around the power station.
You can drive through it, but you're not supposed to stop, you're not supposed to get out.
Um, you're not supposed to pick anything up or take it away.
- Oh, it's all closed.
- Yeah, it's all closed.
No one is here.
- No one is allowed.
- Oh, there's just a load - of new cars parked there all covered in weeds.
-Yeah.
JAMES: After restrictions were lifted two years ago, 900 residents returned to the nearby town of Namie, which originally had a population of around 17 and a half thousand.
The government has assured these residents that the radiation levels are safe.
We should just explain, we have this little Actually, it's going up slightly.
We're at 0.
21 nanosieverts of radiation, which is okay, as we're only here for a short time.
JAMES: 0.
24.
0.
35.
It's going up quite quickly, though.
- Do you mind keeping an eye on that? - Yes.
(both chuckle) - Oh, it's beeping.
- What are we up to? 0.
52.
It says "harmful.
" JAMES: We're now on the edge of the safe zone.
- (radiation counter beeping) - MAKI: Look at this.
JAMES: Oh.
Hang on, let's have a look at this.
This is very bad.
Geez, that's 4.
94.
That's dangerously high.
I'm not sure anybody should be here.
It's supposed to be safe to be back.
JAMES: Well, that's what alarms me.
Everybody says this is the edge of the zone, and you should be quite safe here, - but that's actually the highest reading we've had -Yeah.
and that thing was calibrated this morning.
- Yeah.
- Let's-let's take it with us - and see what it does.
- Yeah.
Let's-let's do it.
- Oh, it went off.
- Oh, there you go.
- 1.
27.
- I think it's-it's - Where - It's when I open the door.
Do you think this is (chuckles) Well, we can't have a radiation-proof Toyota.
- Does it -No, that doesn't - (both laugh) JAMES: Maybe if Maki turned it off and then turned it on again, we'd be okay.
Looking left and right is just rather a cursory I've arranged to meet Oshimizu Kazuki - Konnichiwa.
-(speaks Japanese) one of the residents who, along with his wife and baby, decided to move back.
What made you come back? Because you're obviously not gonna get that many customers.
And, uh, were you here when the meltdown happened? And, um, is it, is it safe to live here? Because we are reading 2.
7 nanosieverts, - We had almost five down the road.
- Hai, hai, hai.
Is it, is it safe? - JAMES: Has this car been here since the disaster? -Hai.
JAMES: That's-that's interesting, because No, actually, when you get close to it, you can see that it's been standing here.
So, that's quite unusual to see rust.
OSHIMIZU: No Oh, no, that's just still got the telephone charging cable plugged into the power socket.
Oh It's probably Probably shouldn't really ugh.
It's actually open.
I won't touch it.
It's-it's bad.
JAMES: Is it not difficult, living here now, knowing that a lot of your friends will never come back? Hmm.
It does seem a bit nosy, but it is just remarkable that you can still see, there the signs of instantaneous abandonment.
I mean, there is still kitchen stuff, everyday, really everyday stuff.
That's what makes it seem tragic.
JAMES: It's hard to imagine what Oshimizu has been through, but it's clear to me that he wants to be seen as a survivor, and not a victim.
Well, I think that's quite remarkable really, because as a firefighter, he was one of the last people out, and as a restaurateur, he was one of the first people back in.
We could probably learn something from that.
And also, I think what he's doing is remarkably bold, so good luck to him.
I'm gonna come back in a couple of years.
My visit to Namie marks the end of my trip to Tohoku.
It's a sobering finale to a region rich in modern and ancient Japanese rites, where I've been taught the correct protocols for dressing, writing, and, of course, bathing.
And now, to invoke the spirit of another British traveler, it's on to somewhere completely different.
I've decided to head south on the train.
Now, it's about 200 miles from here to Tokyo, and if I did that on one of Japan's famous bullet trains, it would only take about an hour because they do 200 miles an hour.
And they're not even a new idea.
The bullet trains have been around since about a year after I was born.
That's how old they are.
Today, though, I'm going to take six hours by train to go to Tokyo because I'm going on something called the Shiki-shima train, and it is the most luxurious train in the world.
(horn blows) (gong clangs) (indistinct P.
A.
announcement) Konnichiwa.
Domo arigato.
The Shiki-shima's aesthetic has been dreamt up by Ken Okuyama, a designer who worked on the Ferrari Enzo and the Porsche 911, the 996 series with the funny headlights.
There's something of the supercar about this train.
But unlike a supercar, it's designed to go slowly.
The ten-car train accommodates just 34 passengers in 17 suites, and every fixture and fitting has been meticulously designed, from the traditional bentwoods to the handwoven carpets made by a company who supply the Vatican.
Luxury like this, of course, doesn't come cheap, but thankfully, the train's holding a press junket day to show itself off, and we've blagged our way on board.
It is absolutely exquisite on here.
All the details, the lights, the woodwork, the aluminum, the tablecloth, it's-it's just fantastic.
You can stay on this train for up to four days, in which case the ticket will cost you a trifling £8,000.
But everything about it is fabulous.
The Orient Express is often referred to as the Shiki-shima of Europe.
In a moment, I'm going to be served the first course of my French lunch made by a Michelin-starred Japanese chef.
(clears throat) And, in fact, here it comes now.
You'd almost think we'd arranged it.
Mmm.
Domo arigato.
(speaks Japanese) It's a sliver of raw salmon anointed with some leaves, a tiny little piece of spring onion and a flower.
And And that.
Excellent.
- (woman speaking Japanese) - Ah.
- MAKI: No, no, no, no, no, no! - MAN: No, no! - Hmm? - MAKI: You can't eat! (woman speaking Japanese) I'm not supposed to eat it? What am I supposed to do with it? MAKI: There's another media who want to film this food, this lunch.
You can't eat.
- Somebody else wants to film my lunch? - MAKI: Yes.
- Why don't they get their own bloody lunch? -(Make laughs) Tickets are £8,000 What Seriously, I'm not supposed to eat it? MAKI: You are not supposed to eat.
You are supposed to allow other people.
Okay, so you have to stand up and we have to let other media to come in and film.
JAMES: Anyway, it's the best compliment you can pay a chef, to say, "Mmm, that's nice," and start eating it.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.
But you have to respect other media, as well, right? (exhales) MAKI: Hurry, hurry.
JAMES: Are they very angry? MAKI: Yeah.
The lady look at me.
Like, she got this look.
And then she look at me as if I didn't explain to you.
So there's other camerapeople on here.
MAKI: Right.
- So they all film the same lunch? - MAKI: Mm-hmm.
So the other people are going to take pictures of it, say, "Look at the exquisite food on the Shiki-shima train," but there's actually a bit missing - 'cause I've eaten it.
(laughs) - Exactly.
Because you ate.
It's all your fault.
You will have to do gomanasai, so you have to practice.
Okay, I will go and say sumimasen.
- Yeah.
-Douitashimashite.
No, you don't say douitashimashite to yourself.
You don't say, "I'm sorry and you're welcome.
" - (laughs) - No.
Uh, sorry.
Sumimasen.
- No, no, no, no.
- I didn't mean to eat eat the salmon sake starter.
Sumimasen.
- CHEF: Oy.
- The sake.
Sumimasen.
Ah, chef, sumimasen.
Sumimasen about the salmon.
Could you say, "I'm sorry about the salmon"? - Sumimasen.
-(Maki speaking Japanese) After the entire train had accepted my prostrate shame, the chef took pity on me and gave me some edible lunch.
Though, of course, I was now too nervous to eat it.
TOM: So just to be clear, can James eat this food or not? MAKI: Yes, so James can eat.
I can eat this food? MAKI: Yes, you can eat.
Can I have a glass of wine, or does The New York Times want to take a photograph of it? Am I allowed to eat that? - MAKI: Yes.
- And that? - MAKI: Yes, everything.
- And that? Mmm.
Mmm.
Mmm! Mmm, that's nice.
Mmm.
Tokyo.
Excellent! Come on.
Could you get my bags? That would be marvelous.
JAMES: Next time, Japan's capital.
I'm so naughty, naughty You're so naughty, naughty, I want to dance Uh, here.
I'm so pretty, pretty You're so cutie, cutie, I want to dance JAMES: I wonder where it is.
I want to dance Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa (man speaking Japanese) I'm so naughty, naughty, you're so naughty, naughty I want to dance What Uh, uh, that could be (speaking Japanese) You're so cutie, cutie, I want to dance (singing in Japanese) (indistinct P.
A.
announcements) Do you want to dance? I'm so naughty, naughty, you're so naughty, naughty I want to dance Kiss, kiss, kiss.