The thunderous fun of taiko drums
Vibrant and visceral, Taiko drumming is a Japanese art form that’s thrilling to watch and exciting to play. It’s a very physical form of music and also very loud. I loved my lessons with sensei Liz Walters but had to suspend them due to social distancing. In this week’s Japan Story video I ask Liz what ignited her passion for taiko and asked her when we get back to the dojo.
Waiting for tourists to return
In 2019, Japan was riding an unprecedented wave of tourism, with the government aiming for as many as 40 million tourists during 2020. But after strict border controls were imposed due to Covid and the Olympics were postponed, Japan’s once bustling tourist centres became ghost towns. In this Japan Story video, Felicity Tillack and John Daub share their thoughts on this strange and lonely year in Japan, and what might be coming next.
Somehow, whenever Japanese people do crazy things, the cameras seem to follow. But this can leave foreign audiences with a confusing picture of what the country is really like. In this video the chairman of the Japan Society Bill Emmott discusses the media’s approach to Japan with eminent BBC and NHK correspondents Bill Simpson and Aiko Doden.
Challenging racial prejudice
In recent years, there’s been a record level of immigration into Japan. It’s helped to create a much more racially diverse society, as many international relationships lead to families with biracial children. Nevertheless, people who look different can still attract unwanted attention and this sometimes leads to casual racism. Richa Ohri from Chiba University has spoken to many multiethnic people as part of her project, New Face of Japan. She discusses her findings with the author Felicity Tillack, founder of Where Next Japan? You can read Felicity’s articles and watch films she has made by following this link.
The Brilliant brains of cats
Most animals lack the cognitive ability to recognise and copy the actions of human beings. However, some cats can. Our video shows how a pet-owner in Ichinomiya has taught her cat, Ebisu, to follow her example. Which raises the question: can clever cats outsmart dogs?
Romance in Kyoto
Kyoto seems like a natural setting for a love story. A charming film called Impossible to Imagine, follows a cross cultural relationship and sheds light on some of the city’s hidden aspects.
What next for women?
Women in Japan are sometimes regarded as having a lower social status than men. They also face limited professional opportunities. However, author Bill Emmott says females are crucial to Japan’s economic destiny.
Jumping for joy
Mayumi Hirata’s photographs capture the energy of Japanese people who live abroad.
Ghostly business meetings never end
The spirits of departed workers take a keen interest in the lives of their living colleagues.