Joanna Lumley's Japan (2016) s01e03 Episode Script


JOANNA: This is the last part of my 2,000-mile journey, travelling the length of Japan from north to south, with intriguing adventures and fascinating people across its hundreds of islands.
I'm leaving Honshu, which is the biggest of the four principal Japanese islands, and going down to Shikoku, which is the smallest.
It's got 4 million people, so it's not exactly tiny.
And from Shikoku, it's over 1,000 miles to the southernmost tip of Japan, an archipelago of Pacific islands.
Look at this view.
We'll see great cities and stunning landscapes.
Oh, that's a beauty.
I'll reveal Japan's most ancient secrets .
and some of its most modern achievements .
and we're starting here on this amazing bridge, built between Honshu and Shikoku.
It's absolutely bristling with superlatives.
Listen to these s-st-statistics, if I can say the word properly.
1,991m long, 282m high, which makes it the longest and the highest suspension bridge in the whole world.
Come with me to Japan.
and across the island, monks perform a ceremony dating back to the 6th century.
35% of Japan is Buddhist, and all over the island, thousands of white-clad, faithful pilgrims can be seen making their way between the 88 temples along the route.
I've never been on a pilgrimage before, but with these delightful outfits, I think I feel the calling.
David-san? Oh, hi! David Morden has lived in Japan for 25 years, and he's going to point me in the right direction.
The journey takes you on How long, how far away? It's about 1,200km Ooh.
so it takes a while to get around.
You've done it, of course.
How many times? Just once, really.
Just once? (LAUGHS) The pilgrimage is to honour Shikoku's most famous son Koubou Daishi, who lived here and brought Shingon Buddhism to Japan from China in the 9th century.
Before I follow in the great man's footsteps, I need to dress appropriately.
I might have to put something else on, but I'm loving this already.
I can hear my voice echoing up underneath it.
Do I need a staff? The staff represents the embodiment of Koubou Daishi, so it's important to get the right one.
I think that would be a nice one.
Or do you think I should have a more Buddhist colour? I think I might go for one of the rich Buddhist colours.
I've now changed my mind.
I'm not gonna have that one, I'm having this one.
No, I'm not, actually.
I like the colour.
I'm not gonna have that one.
I think I want long sleeves, don't you? OK.
It doesn't look very smart, I think I look I don't look very good.
What do you think? What do you think? I'm now kitted out with all sorts of pilgrim paraphernalia, fully equipped to experience temple No.
So, a lot of people put the staff here.
Some of these look quite old.
Often people forget them because you get very busy with the incense and the candle and everything.
I wouldn't forget mine.
I would never forget my stick.
These huge lanterns which have swastikas on them, which, of course, in the east, are signs of peace.
Right above us, an extraordinary dragon.
My pilgrim hat won't let me see exactly what he's up to.
He's got talons and the full moon.
As the end of your life comes into view, it, sort of, becomes late afternoon, evening of your life, you begin to think back and you begin to try to ponder on what's good and bad, and what's it all about, Alfie, and that sort of thing, and although I've never made a pilgrimage, this seems like a good time to start.
I've got all the kit, for a start.
Well, off I go.
(SPEAKS JAPANESE) Oh, you are wonderful.
Thank you so much.
(CLANGS) I wonder if at the end of my pilgrimage, I'll be recharged Gorgeous onions.
They grow things so beautifully round here.
reinvigorated, reinvented.
This little pilgrim's way sometimes comes through woods, and it's absolutely stunning just to get away off the beaten track.
Whatever happens, I hope to be a much, much better person by the end of this.
(GASPS) What I've already learned along the way is that you can be quite specific about what you're looking for, and some of the temples have themes, like this one.
This is very beautiful.
I think that this temple is, sort of, dedicated to childbirth and procreation and so on.
I think this is where pregnant women come, and this is where they hang .
their little prayers and wishes, hope their dreams come true.
Most Japanese people combine Buddhism with elements of Shintoism to form a more fluid spirituality rather than a defined religion.
There's quite a crowd here.
I'm going to make my way around here.
(ALL CHANTING PRAYER) 200,000 people complete this pilgrimage every year.
Historically, you walked the route on your own, but these days, whole busloads of pilgrims choose to visit the temples en masse.
Are you doing the whole trip? Whole trip.
(GASPS) Walking? Erm, with bus, actually.
And how long will that take you? Erm, it's It will take two weeks.
Two weeks.
This one is dedicated to motherhood, procreation.
My dream What did you wish? I haven't, erm You haven't got a child.
Yes, so I asked him, so I hope.
I hope so, too.
Thank you.
I think it will be good.
It's lovely to meet you.
What is your name? Chihiro.
I knew I should have got a short-sleeved shirt, I knew that I thought that I'd look But now I see how chic, you see.
Chic pilgrim.
Not so chic pilgrim.
It's good to meet you.
Nice to meet you.
Go safely.
Thank you, you too.
And have that baby.
Oh, I hope so.
Meeting such lovely people Staff in there.
is already making me feel good about life (CLANGS) .
and getting my book signed at every temple makes me feel positively gleeful.
It's got to be as beautiful as anything you've ever seen in your life.
What could possibly go wrong? You can see my stick has slightly changed.
Erm, the thing is that I'm afraid I left it.
When you go into the temples, you put your beautiful staves and umbrellas, obviously, outside, and then you pick them up and go out, and I forgot to pick mine up, and so my beautiful and important embodiment of the saint, which I was going to take home, and wash, and give my best bed to, has gone, and I've got this bamboo one, which is .
it's lovely.
I wanted an apron.
I knew I should have got an apron like this.
It looks so trim and nice.
Some of the temples are in extraordinary places.
These excited pilgrims are all trying to catch a glimpse of the great man himself, Koubou Daishi.
He once spent 50 days up on this mountain repeating a Buddhist text known as the sutra one million times.
For my final temple, I'm up and out before dawn.
(It's 5:30 in the morning.
) (DISTANT CHANTING) (I'm off to hear some pilgrim chanting.
) This extraordinary temple provides protection against those difficult years that we all go through.
Here, the age of 33 is regarded as being particularly unlucky for women, hence the 33 steps.
You're supposed to put a coin on every step, but, I mean, the truth is that I'm a little bit more than 33.
(MONKS CHANTING) The monks perform these chants, or sutras, every morning .
while the chief monk builds a consecrated fire that's believed to have a powerful cleansing effect.
(CHIMES) (DRUMS BEATING) I'm delighted to learn that according to the Shingon doctrine that they practise here, enlightenment is not some distant, unattainable concept, but something achievable in life today.
It gives us all hope.
That was really lovely, lovely ceremony.
I mean, apart from the chanting, and the .
the booming of the great gong and the drum, the drumming which goes right through your heart, and just while we were in there, the sun's come up .
and it's going to be another perfect day.
Fujukoyuko is the 4th generation of his family to be a monk here at Yakuoji Temple, and I asked him to explain the significance of the age of 33 for women, and why it's regarded as being especially problematic.
(SPEAKING JAPANESE) I'm very old now, and I feel fine.
This is excellent.
(BOTH LAUGH) I've started again.
This is very good.
Proof that I have, in fact, been rejuvenated by this pilgrimage.
To come to Shikoku, and to follow a little bit of the pilgrimage trail has given me such a sense of peace, of reconnecting with the beauty of nature.
Secretly I wish I could stay here for a little bit longer, but I've got to go.
To get to my next island, Kyushu, I have to go via Honshu, where I jump on a bullet train to whisk me the 400 miles southwest to this fiery island.
I'll be flirting with volcanoes, and messing about in big boats, and speaking to humanoids.
Taxi? On my Japanese adventure, I've reached the island of Kyushu.
It has great cities, busy harbours, and active volcanoes to contend with.
I've also been recommended a very discreet little place.
Hello, I'm Joanna Lumley.
I've booked a room- (AUTOMATED VOICE) Welcome to Henn-na Hotel.
I will confirm your check-in information.
Thank you.
Please proceed to your right to complete the check-in process.
All right.
Here we are.
Currently confirming your invoice.
Thank you.
Currently confirming your invoice.
Yes, I heard you, I heard you.
Thanks, darling.
Please ROBOT 2: .
your receipt What? You're both talking over Please enjoy your stay.
I will.
Thank you so much.
(SIGHS) Hello? Porter? The Henn-na Hotel is the world's first robot hotel.
Robotic porter available in A-wing.
It's run by robots to accommodate the thousands of foreign tourists now flooding into Japan.
Yamaguchi-san, the hotel manager, is on-hand to explain a bit more of the concept.
(SPEAKING JAPANESE) Robotic porter.
'Please put your suitcase/baggage on the robot, and put the chain around it.
' There we are.
There we go.
Let's try to get there before the evening, shall we? This hotel staffed by robots must cost a lot of money.
How can it make a profit? Every room in the hotel has its own personal robot.
Meet my new friend Churi.
Look at that little person.
'Let's talk with me.
' Here it is, how to talk.
'You' That's me.
CHURI: May I help you? Yes, Churi, please can you ask the front desk to bring me some coffee, my little friend? May I help you? Yes, Churi, yes.
So, erm, Churi I will sing.
Oh, what? Will you? (SINGING IN JAPANESE) Oh, how lovely.
(HUMMING) You can bring some champagne.
You are going to sleep already.
I would like a bottle of champagne on ice! I said a half-bottle but I now mean a full bottle.
Churi, will you get me anything? Some, some I know you can hear me.
You're leaving again today.
I'm not leaving again.
I haven't even arrived.
I've had nothing to eat, and I've had nothing to drink.
May I help you? No.
(SINGING IN JAPANESE) 40 miles down the coast is Nagasaki, a city that all of us will have heard of.
Nagasaki has flourished for centuries, its high hills sheltering the city and protecting a natural deep-water harbour.
For early Europeans, Nagasaki was one of the few places the Japanese allowed trade with the outside world.
The port and the city flourished.
Today, shipyards, warehouses, cranes and colossal cruise ships fill the skyline.
A fleet of muscular-looking tugs is the life-blood of this busy commercial harbour, and I've managed to wangle myself on board one of them.
Early the next morning, I'm reporting for duty.
It's not yet 6:00 in the morning, I'm down on the quayside, and this is the tug I'm joining.
The Tomozuru, and I'm all equipped and ready.
I've got my newlife jacket.
It's a new way of wearing them, round the waist, not over the top like this.
I think I can go on board.
It's only when you get out on the water that you can see the extent of the ship-building industry that still goes on in Nagasaki.
Dry docks, slipways - this one belongs to Mitsubishi .
but our job this morning is to lead a Chinese cruise ship into port.
I'm honoured by Toshihiro Ide, the owner of the company, who is on-hand to explain the plan.
This is Nagasaki harbour.
We come from this point, and come out And this is Chinese Taishan, and we'll meet here.
There are two ships here - one I can see very clearly, which has got a red hull, and the other .
huge, coming in from the northwest, is the Chinese ship, the Taishan.
We're leading her the safe way into the harbour.
It all looks so beautiful.
I can imagine what it must have been like to be those early traders, because in this morning light, you can just see the shape of the hills, islands, rocks, sun banging off the water, sound of the wind, and the slapping of the waves.
Terribly exciting.
Japan has been in and out of recession since the '90s, but in recent years, tourism, especially with the Chinese, is booming.
Japan and China are not always on the best of terms, so it's nice to see, at least, a cruise ship we're all blowing kisses to each other.
You can just see now how our little tug the Tomozuru is nudging the Chinese Taishan so that she's in the right position.
Now that's job done, and we're gonna go back, and I'm just gonna take over the trickier bits of getting in I'll just take over.
(GIGGLES) It was a pleasure to be on the Tomozuru, and arigatou, and thank you so much.
Thank you very much indeed.
Thank you very much.
It was very good of you.
It was lovely.
Thank you.
Today, Nagasaki is a bustling commercial city but in 1945, its industrial output was directed to the Japanese war effort, fighting Allied troops in the bitter conflict in the Pacific.
The Americans decided to try to end the war with nuclear weapons, and on 6th August, they dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, killing 80,000 people .
but the Japanese leadership still did not surrender .
and so three days later, a second atomic bomb was detonated over the city of Nagasaki.
Three days after that, the Japanese surrendered, and World War II, at last, came to an end .
but the city of Nagasaki had paid a huge price.
Shiroyama School, just 600m from the epicentre, was one of the few buildings left standing due to its concrete construction.
Today, it's still a school and a living monument to peace.
A statue of an 11-year-old boy, a pupil at the school who lost his life along with his entire family, now stands in the playground.
It's very touching, because Hello.
Good morning.
Good morning.
not a single child has omitted to bow to the little statue.
This bowing, it isn't something that happens on special days.
Beginning of every single school day, round they come .
and just pay their respects to peace.
Who is the statue of? (SPEAKING JAPANESE) Oh.
Thank you.
(SPEAKING JAPANESE) Oh, brooms, bring the other broom.
This broom's not working any more.
I love it.
They're all concentrating on the fact this is the souls of the departed, who were killed, and there seems to be no, sort of, acrimony.
It's just very sweet, and peaceful, and respectful, but not sombre.
A section of the original school has been made into a museum commemorating that dreadful day in August 1945.
Matsuyoshi Ikira was a pupil of the school when the bomb dropped.
Today he curates the museum.
I'm Joanna.
And is this the school here? (SPEAKING JAPANESE) This tower is absolutely destroyed, yeah.
Well, this was before it was bombed, and then afterwards, nothing at all.
So, will you describe to me what happened on that morning of August 9th? (SPEAKING JAPANESE) Matsuyoshi was less than half a mile from the centre of the explosion.
Incredibly, his family's half-built shelter protected him from the blast, and subsequently from the harmful radiation.
I love the city of Nagasaki, and it's good to see it thriving again after such an appalling episode in its history.
I'm travelling 200 miles south to the very tip of the island The third car.
to the city of Kagoshima, which sits under a smouldering and very active volcano.
I'm on the Shinkansen, or bullet train, and speeding southwards across Kyushu towards the city of Kagoshima, which is over 300km away and nestled under the active volcano of Sakurajima.
It's taking me about 2.
5 hours to travel the distance .
which must mean I'm travelling at speeds approaching If 160 is If 8 It's 8 to 5, so160 would be twice Well, it's fast.
Believe me.
Due to its many active volcanoes, Kyushu is known as the island of fire.
Japan sits on the junction of four tectonic plates, so the threat of natural disaster is never far away .
and three days after I passed through this region, disaster struck.
A series of earthquakes registering up to 6 on Japan's seismic intensity scale collapsed buildings, ripped up roads, and stopped all trains running for days.
Tragically, 48 people were killed.
It's late by the time we reach the city of Kagoshima .
but even in the falling light, I can see the ominous presence of Sakurajima looming over the city .
and early the next morning, I'm on board a ferry bound for Sakurajima.
You know, it's difficult to imagine a more precarious place to live, but 7,000 people choose to stay here under the shadow of this growling giant.
On the island, such is the threat from debris thrown from the volcano that all school kids must wear hard hats on their way to and from school.
They must sweep up volcanic ash from the playground Piles of black volcanic dust, headmaster helping, and to think they do this every single morning.
and they have regular evacuation drills.
(MAN SPEAKING IN JAPANESE OVER PA) JOANNA: Let's go, let's go, let's go! Yeah, yeah, yeah, run, run, run, baby.
Come on, let's go.
This is a volcano drill.
So, why would anybody in their right mind want to live so close to this smouldering brute of a volcano? The answer lies under your feet, in the incredible fertile soils thrown out from Sakurajima.
Just get a bit of a clue of what I'm gonna find up here.
Sakurajima is famous for its super-sized radishes.
The current world record radish was grown here, and weighed in at over a back-breaking 31 kilos.
Toshikiyo Murayama is the third generation to farm radishes here.
This is fantastic.
Look at that.
Why do these radishes grow so huge just here? (SPEAKING JAPANESE) Rains down pumice stones, yeah.
The pumice stone in the soil traps air and water, which promotes really good root development, and makes for some gigantic radishes.
This one? Murayama-san, how long have you been farming here? Yeah, OK.
(Not as easy as it looks.
) OK, OK.
OK, OK? Not brilliant, OK, but, sort of, not bad.
Oh, that's a beauty.
(STRAINING) That's more than That's up to there, but I can't hold it much higher than that.
That's the beauty shot.
That's all I can do.
This is hard work, harvesting radishes.
Murayama-san, do you have a son? Will he take over farming from you? Yeah.
Yeah, let's do it.
Look at this dish of food.
Could anything look lovelier? It's got radish flowers on the top shredded radish or something inside.
That's gorgeous.
The offer of a radish lunch did make me a little apprehensive, but I was completely blown away by what was put in front of me.
(GASPS) Look at this.
That's a picture.
Could you ever see anything lovelier than that? I mean, look at this, these are shreds of radish which look like spaghetti.
Admit it - you want to eat that.
Well, I do, obviously.
Given its volatile nature, there are teams of scientists who are constantly monitoring Sakurajima.
I'm joining Professor Keigo Yamamoto on a flight right over the volcano.
Yamamoto-san, when was the last big eruption? Oh, last night.
Last night? I see.
Every day we have.
You have had eruptions every week, every day.
My gosh.
Oh, look, we're coming round to the top of it now.
You can see the crater right there.
I can see now where the smoke's coming Yes, another ridge inside the crater.
I can smell sulphur, too.
It's all apocalyptic, it's absolutely fantastic.
Look at that.
Oh, that's extraordinary.
Just gorgeous.
Smoke coming out of the fissures all around it, and the sharp, sharp edge from where it had blown its top.
It feels as if we're back at the beginning of the world.
This is how the world was formed.
Yamamoto-san, thank you so much.
It's beautiful, isn't it? It's "sayonara" to the volatile, fiery island of Kyushu, and saying "konichiwa" to the long archipelago of the Ryukyu Islands that stretch 700 miles south, nearly all the way to Taiwan.
The people of these islands are ethnically different to the mainland people of Japan, and maintained their independence up until 1879.
My first stop is the island of Okinawa.
I don't know why, but somehow I imagined that Okinawa would be a tiny tropical paradise .
but it's mostly a city landscape.
It's been colonised by the Japanese since the mid-19th century .
by the Americans since the end of the war, but Okinawa has an ancient art all of its own which started here, which has gone on to conquer almost every country in the world.
Karate was invented right here in Okinawa.
It derives from the indigenous martial arts of the Ryukyu Islands, and it's called "karate", meaning "open hand".
(YELLS) It spread to the Japanese mainland and the rest of the world in the early 20th century.
(SPEAKS JAPANESE) Higaonna-sensei is 77 years old and a karate legend.
(SPEAKS JAPANESE) He's black belt 10th dan, and was once considered the most dangerous man in Okinawa.
If I was beginning today to learn karate, what was the first thing I would do? No, this strong, but very slow.
So, so, yes, some pull back.
Then that sort of way? Right hand, left hand together.
Yes, so, so.
Is that better? Very good.
Very good.
I can remember as Purdey, in the New Avengers, doing that, and also going past somebody, pulling their foot and shoving them over.
(SIGHS) Long-ago days.
Those were pretty much 40 years ago.
The island of Okinawa was known around the world for the terrible battle that was fought here towards the end of the Second World War, 70 years ago.
The island had huge strategic importance and was the first Japanese soil that the American forces would set foot on.
At the Cornerstone of Peace monument, I met Masahide Ota, who, like thousands of young men from the local population, was conscripted into the army, and made to fight against the invading Americans.
When the American fleet arrived, was it here? American soldiers came in, we were fighting there, you know, along this sea shore.
American battleships were all over the place, you know.
During the 88-day battle, he deserted and, with hundreds of others, hid in caves along this shoreline.
He saw nearly all his comrades die, but he overcame hunger, thirst, and injury eventually to emerge and surrender to the Americans.
I was hiding in the cave, nono food, no water .
always, "Today I will die," and "Tomorrow I will die," I've been always like that, you know.
Even today I don't know how many days I was like that, you know, so why I could survive? So I said my purpose that I had survived was to guarantee, never again, we will not have war.
After the war, Ota-san went on to become governor of the island and dedicated many years to establishing this peace park to commemorate the battle and the thousands of Japanese, Okinawan, and American soldiers who died fighting here.
More than 240,000 people names are engraved here.
Ota-san, this is the most extraordinary place you have created.
It's very wonderful that you came from England.
That's so far away, and I really appreciate.
In the south of the island, high above the capital Naha, lie the wartime Japanese naval headquarters, which are dug deep into the rock.
As the US 6th Marine Corps closed in, large numbers of young Japanese sailors were ordered underground to make their last stand.
All over Okinawa, there are hundreds of graves and shrines commemorating the dead from both sides of the war .
but here, in what remains of the imperial Japanese naval headquarters, thousands of young men made the final sacrifice, but they chose to commit ritual suicide rather than surrender to the American forces.
This network of tunnels, carved from rock by hand, now serves as a chilling memorial to them.
The tunnels are as they were in 1945, and you still get a strong sense of all the young men who fought and died here.
It's incredibly clammy down here.
It's got gutters with water running down.
It's just ghastly, it's like it's like walking into a Well, it is, it's walking into a tomb, if you think of thousands of young men, thousands of young men killing themselves down here.
When the tunnels were opened, there were about 2,500 bodies down here .
and on the damaged walls, you can still see the terrible evidence of a group suicide.
"Wall riddled with a hand grenade when committed suicide.
" And this was somebody killing themselves and a hand grenade going off.
It must have been like a charnel house here.
This goes up.
(SOBBING) Oh, boys.
I find this so .
so unbearable.
I mean, war is unbearable anyway, but to think that people people felt so ashamed about being taken captive that they would Young ones whose lives had hardly started.
It's so good to see the open air after that.
I can't tell you how overpowering it is down there.
It's just dreadful, I don't know, there's something about It's, sort of, in living memory, of course, there are old people now who can remember it, particularly here in Okinawa .
and it just shows you how utterly ghastly war is.
God, what a ghastly place.
(SIGHS) Anyway, it's peaceful now.
I'm nearing the end of my long Japanese journey.
We've just travelled 300 miles to almost the southernmost part of Japan, 1,500 miles south of Tokyo.
We're going to an island called Kohama.
There's a lovely group of old ladies there who have discovered a different way of keeping young.
Maybe I'll learn something.
This remote coral island's population is just 600, but 33 of them managed to pull off a pop sensation, clinching a No.
1 hit in the Japanese charts of 2015 with their catchy little number Come On And Dance Kohama.
Their group is called KBG84 - "KBG", an acronym for Kohama Grandmother Choir, and "84" is their average age.
This is a slightly different version of the ladies who lunch, because here they all are, these incredibly funky-looking people.
They are all 80 or more, that's the only difference.
The ladies' pre-lunch grace reaffirms their theory about how to get every last little bit of goodness out of life.
(ALL RECITE IN JAPANESE) The girls made a video of their No.
1 hit, and have since toured the country to sell-out gigs .
and we're all revving up for another performance.
(ALL SINGING COME ON AND DANCE KOHAMA) Everybody on this little island got in on the act.
I went off to meet one of the tiniest but biggest stars of the group to find out about her secret of success.
This is the house of Tomi-san.
She's 92 years old.
Tomi-san Oh.
Thank you.
Tomi-san, tell me, how do you keep looking and feeling so young? And tell me the secret of your energy.
I didn't know these islands, right at the southernmost tip of Japan, even existed .
but coming all this way and meeting people like Tomi-san has been inspiring, and if at her age I have half her energy, I'll be delighted.
We started this journey almost a stone's throw from Russia, and we're ending it on this beach in Kohama, practically within sight of Taiwan, a journey of over 2,000 miles.
And this has struck me.
No matter how varied the climate or the scenery - the frozen, icy sea, deep, snowy forests, mild evenings under the cherry blossom, volcanoes, children's schools, crowded cities .
the one thing that has remained constant is the endless kindness, friendliness and courtesy of everyone we've met in this fabulous country.
When I came here, I wondered how strange and alien it would be .
to our life in the western world .
and, you know, now it just feels like home from home.
Except for lavatories.
They're far better here.