I confess that when I heard that ‘Joanna Lumley’s Japan’ was about to burst upon our screens, I thought “here we go again, yet another celebrity travelogue” which was bound to be beautifully filmed but embracing weary-worn, well-trodden paths.
But, I was wrong. ‘Joanna Lumley’s Japan’ is in a class of its own rather, in fact, like the presenter herself! The researchers have done a brilliant job in winkling out fascinating facets about ‘The Land of the Rising Sun’ and, Joanna’s enthusiastic and passionate presentation has made this a real television gem.
Whilst I enjoyed her bird’s eye view of Tokyo’s breath taking, futuristic looking metropolis, I preferred her delving into the more traditional and cultural aspects of this fascinating country.
Notable amongst these was the walk along the ancient route to Kyoto which has an infamous past featuring brigands, bandits and murder most foul. Today it is a journey of spiritual calm and many a teahouse to quench the senses!
And, when Joanna finally arrives in Kyoto, she is greeted by the Hamani – the wondrous traditional celebration of the fleeting cherry blossom season. Needless to say, this is very much an Ab Fab moment with the presenter wallowing in seas of dazzling pink!
Her interview with a young girl training to be a Geisha was something of a coup because of the profound secrecy surrounding this highly disciplined, centuries old art. Despite being utterly committed to the rigorous 5-year induction, Joanna managed to sympathetically tease out the fact that the young Geisha harboured a desire to be like other girls of her age and simply enjoy life without restraint and conformity.
As Joanna said, “it was a situation which was both inspirational and sad.”
And, talking about a programme with many a “tale” of the unexpected. I particularly liked Joanna’s quirky visit to Sakurajima – a small volcanic island in the far south.
Apart from spectacular views from an aeroplane swooping over the bubbling cauldron of a still active volcano, at its base were fertile farms famed for their giant radishes. Many were over 31 kilos in weight – taking two men to pluck them from the rich, pumice-stoned fields.
Needless to say, radish is virtually the staple diet of this island served up in many delectable guises.
‘Joanna Lumley’s Japan’ has certainly been an eye opener into many of this fascinating country’s ‘faces’ and if her series has whetted the appetite why not savour Japan’s many delights for yourself with a Ramblers Worldwide Holiday to Japan?