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Japan in Focus

新日本探訪 [NHK]

The faces of the Times As these programs demonstrate, Japan is changing with the times. The changes are sometimes difficult, but the spirit with which they are met is never less than inspiring.

SERIES A Father, Two Sons & A Factory – Ota, Tokyo –


新日本探訪 | 父と子の町工場 東京大田区 [NHK]

|Length : 24min. |Year : 2000

More than 6000 factories crowd the cityscape of Ota in downtown Tokyo. Most of these factories were built at the height of Japan's postwar economic boom, from the mid 1950s to the mid 1960s, and many are still family-run. Today, they are facing difficult times trying to pass on both their skills and their management know-how. This program examines the struggles and challenges facing the factories of downtown Tokyo at a critical time by profiling Masaru Fukunaga, his two sons and his metal parts factory which has been run by him for over 40 years...

SERIES Trumpets Echo in the Mountains – Kitakata, Miyazaki –


新日本探訪 | 山に響けトランペット 宮崎県北方町 [NHK]

|Length : 24min. |Year : 1999

Nestled deep in the mountains of Kyushu is the small community of Shimo-Shishigawa, in the municipality of Kitakata, Miyazaki Prefecture at the southwestern tip of Japan. There are only 10 pupils in the elementary school, three who come from urban areas, but all are members of the school's trumpet band. Local children originally formed the band, and their skills were boosted as city students joined. This heart-warming program portrays children whose friendship grows out of making music together, and the adults who keep a watchful eye over them.

SERIES The Streetcars are Still Running – Hiroshima –


新日本探訪 | 路面電車走り続けて 広島市 [NHK]

|Length : 24min. |Year : 1999

In most parts of the country, as cars have come to dominate the roads, streetcars have become extinct. But in Hiroshima, the old transportation system still survives, carrying 120,000 passengers a day, more than anywhere else in Japan. Cost-cutting measures, including recycling discarded trams, have enabled Hiroshima to keep its 220 streetcars running. This program follows a driver with over 30 years of experience and a young recruit training for the job that will fulfill his childhood dream.

SERIES Dreams of a Log Cabin


新日本探訪 | 丸太小屋に夢つないで 山梨 白州町 [NHK]

|Length : 24min. |Year : 1997

The area surrounding the Japanese Southern Alps has become a haven for city dwellers seeking an escape from the pressures of city life. This influx of new part-time residents encouraged Saburo Shimizu to expand his sawmill business to include assisting others to build log cabins for holiday homes.

SERIES Founding a Future


新日本探訪 | 誇り熱き鉄に 鋳物の街・埼玉川口 [NHK]

|Length : 24min. |Year : 1997

From a once burgeoning foundry town bordering Tokyo, Kawaguchi City has been transformed into a bedroom community. The number of small factories that covered the city has been reduced to only 200. This show focuses on one of the few foundries still standing and the hardships both owner and employees face in these difficult times.

SERIES Buzzing in a Bountiful Forest


新日本探訪 | 恵みの森に飛べ 会津・ミツバチ飼い [NHK]

|Length : 24min. |Year : 1997

Beekeepers in Japan transverse the country in search of blossoms for their bees. But the Aizu forest in Fukushima Prefecture is so rich, the beekeepers here don't have to move. Yuho Matsumoto, who has been keeping bees for 45 years, and his nephew struggle to preserve their jobs in the face of human progress and technology.

SERIES Echoes of a Dream


新日本探訪 | ボタ山に夢響くとき 福岡 筑豊 [NHK]

|Length : 24min. |Year : 1996

The failing mining city of Iizuka is given new spirit with the formation of an amateur orchestra, the brain child of a native son. This inspiring program provides you the best seat in the house at their first official concert.

SERIES Captain of the Islands


新日本探訪 | 水俣へ渡り続けて 不知火・海上タクシー老船長 [NHK]

|Length : 24min. |Year : 1996

The long battle of the victims of Minamata disease for restitution comes to life daily for the captain of a ferry in the afflicted region. Hear his reminiscences and meet a number of those whose lives were most affected by the disease.

SERIES The Last Rakugo Story


新日本探訪 | 故郷が笑った 熊本・山里の子ども落語 [NHK]

|Length : 24min. |Year : 1996

With two of the three pupils at a village's elementary school about to move away, their traditional story-telling performances are coming to an end. Learn what the end of this tradition will mean to the older people of the village.

SERIES Days of Weaving Together


新日本探訪 | 絆織りなす日 京都 西陣 [NHK]

|Length : 24min. |Year : 1996

The decline of the kimono has hit Kyoto's Nishijin hard, throwing many talented weavers and related craftsmen out of work. Their plight comes to life in the story of 60-yearold Mitsuo Shibagaki, a master craftsman who is nevertheless forced to search for employment.

SERIES Joys of the Circus


新日本探訪 | 楽しやサーカス みちのく・道化師の旅 [NHK]

|Length : 24min. |Year : 1996

The joyous craft of making people happy is in sad decline in Japan, as circuses have lost much of their former popularity. Veteran clown and trapeze artist Kenichi Yamashita may be one of a dying breed, but he gamely passes his skills on to a new generation.

SERIES Come to the Sea


新日本探訪 | 海においでよ 鹿児島 佐多岬 [NHK]

|Length : 24min. |Year : 1996

As these programs demonstrate, Japan is changing with the times. The changes are sometimes difficult, but the spirit with which they are met is never less than inspiring. Retired schoolteacher Kazunari Katsumoto, an avid diver in his 60s, establishes a seafront school for children who refuse to go to regular schools. Witness how Katsumoto eventually gets these "problem" children to open up by following his relationship with one particular boy.

SERIES Fly, Cranes, Fly


新日本探訪 | 翔べタンチョウ 岡山・“鶴のお父さん”の挑戦 [NHK]

|Length : 24min. |Year : 1995

Mr. Inoguchi is working to bring back the great flocks of cranes once so common in Japanese skies - no easy task since these splendid creatures are now an endangered species. Inoguchi not only breeds cranes at the Okayama Prefectural Conservation Center, he must act as a surrogate parent teaching his charges to fly. While aware of the difficulties, Inoguchi is determined that the crane, so important in Japanese culture, will survive for the next generation to marvel at.

SERIES Will It Be Sunny Tomorrow, Sir?


新日本探訪 | 先生あした晴れっぺ 福島 熱塩加納村 [NHK]

|Length : 24min. |Year : 1995

Osamu Nagano is more than just a teacher at a small village school in the mountains of Fukushima - he is a certified weather forecaster too. Since the winter blizzards that strike can endanger his students as they return home, Mr. Nagano has taken it upon himself to study weather forecasting. During the winter he examines the snow at lunch time religiously to make sure it is safe for his charges to go home later.

SERIES Again, the Sound of Wings


新日本探訪 | 羽音よふたたび 千葉・行徳保護区の25年 [NHK]

|Length : 24min. |Year : 1995

Land reclamation projects have gradually destroyed the vast wetlands around Tokyo Bay that were once a paradise for wild birds. In response to public pressure, however, some reclaimed land next to the Imperial Household's duck farm has been designated as a sanctuary and two environmental activists, Mrs. Sumiko Hasuo and her husband, have been appointed as keepers. The program documents the activities of the Hasuo's as they attempt to revive the birds' natural habitat.

SERIES Under the Acacia Flowers – Three Generations of Beekeepers –


新日本探訪 | アカシアの花の下で 北海道・養蜂家三代 [NHK]

|Length : 24min. |Year : 1994

Although most of us - especially those who live in big cities - have to some degree lost touch with the cycles of nature, Junichi Takami is very much an exception. Takami is a beekeeper from the northern island, Hokkaido. He and his bees winter in the Goto Retto Islands in the south and return to the north in May when the acacia blossoms bloom and the fields are covered with fresh clover. The rhythms of this man's life - and that of his family - resonate with the changing seasons.

SERIES A Satchelful of Memories


新日本探訪 | 思い出ランドセル [NHK]

|Length : 24min. |Year : 1994

Nostalgic anyone? Most Japanese primary school children carry their books on their backs in satchels. After six years, these satchels get quite worn, but rather than throw them out some people send them to a small shop in Toda City. This shop uses leather from the originals to make miniature satchels as keepsakes. The shop owner has made more than 4000 such momentos in four years and gets more than a hundred letters every month about the memories these satchels evoke.

SERIES Himeko’s Little Barber Shop


新日本探訪 | 姫子さんの小さな床屋 宮崎・椎葉村 [NHK]

|Length : 24min. |Year : 1993

As one can see from the little cluster of temporary structures in one corner of Shiiba in Miyazaki, life in Japan's rural communities requires resilience, perseverance, and even courage. Two years ago, for example, a typhoon destroyed almost everything Himeko owned, including her barber shop. Even so, she is rebuilding her life supported by family and friends. This is a moving portrait of village life in Japan's mountainous west and of one woman's determination.

SERIES Together Against the Wind – Wajima – Noto Peninsula –


新日本探訪 | 風の絆 奥能登 輪島 [NHK]

|Length : 24min. |Year : 1993

For some people, a fence is not a neighborly thing. The "magaki", or bamboo fences of Osawa-machi on the Japan Sea, however, not only provide protection from the elements and serve as a tourist attraction, they are a symbol of community solidarity. The problem is that there are fewer young people to help maintain them. This interesting program says much about the "graying" of society and the problems faced by communities in preserving their traditional identity.

SERIES Ballad of Youth in Uzumasa – Dreams of Becoming an Action Movie Star –


新日本探訪 | 京都太秦青春譜 夢はアクション俳優 [NHK]

|Length : 24min. |Year : 1991

Actor Shinichi Chiba has established an acting school in Kyoto with a difference. This school is dedicated to "action drama". It takes only 20 students and holds auditions every May for new members. Those who make the grade come every day and support themselves through a variety of part-time jobs. Set in the fresh, green month of May, the program presents an interesting look at young people preparing for a future quite unlike that of most their peers.

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