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Written by: Christopher Harding,Alex Bellos,Rana Mitter,David Peace,SF Said,Natasha Pulley,Matthew Sweet,Richard Lloyd Parry,Roy Jenkins,Philip Dodd
Narrated by: Various
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Publisher's Summary

A captivating anthology of programmes, painting a multi-faceted portrait of a unique country.

Japan is a land of complexity, contrast and contradictions. The world's third-largest economy, it is a powerhouse of innovation and a pioneer in technology, fashion and pop culture. But it also has a rich, ancient heritage and a deep reverence for custom, ritual and tradition. This illuminating 2-part radio collection traverses the different aspects of this fascinating country, from its famous historical figures to its diverse cultural landscape.

Part 1: History opens with Japan in Five Lives, in which cultural historian Christopher Harding portrays the lives of five colourful characters from the country's past to answer the question 'Who are the Japanese'? In Killing Time in Imperial Japan, he explores early 20th Century Tokyo, a bustling, cosmopolitan capital where the meaning of 'time' was hotly contested. Dark Blossoms sees him examining the doubts and misgivings accompanying Japan's rapid embrace of modernity, while in Japanese Tsunami, broadcasters Richard Lloyd Parry and Matthew Sweet discuss the devastating natural disaster that rocked the country in 2011. In Land of the Rising Sums, Alex Bellos visits Kyoto to ask why Asian cultures seem so much better at maths; in Japan and Religion, Roy Jenkins discusses the place of religious traditions in modern Japan; and in Supernatural Japan, Christopher Harding looks at how the Japanese have used ghosts and ghost stories to make sense of their world.

Part 2: Culture celebrates Japan's art, literature and film. In Japan Now 2020, Philip Dodd talks to writers Hiromi Ito and Yukiko Motoya and photographer Tomoko Sawada about women's roles in Japanese culture today. Meanwhile, in Images of Japan, illustrator Fumio Obata and manga translator Jocelyne Allen discuss Japanese comic book imagery, and we join novelists Kyoko Nakajima and Yuya Sato in conversation with Christopher Harding. Landmark: Seven Samurai and Landmark: Rashomon see Matthew Sweet and Rana Mitter investigating the stories behind Akira Kurosawa's two most influential films, in the company of guests including film scholar Ian Christie and authors SF Said, David Peace and Natasha Pulley. The Tale of Genji takes us into the shimmering world of mediaeval Japan, as Rana Mitter explores Murasaki Shikibu's masterpiece, widely considered to be the world's first novel. Finally, in Godzilla and Hayao Miyazaki, Christopher Harding considers cinematic depictions of Japanese fear, as exemplified by the legendary monster king and the 2013 animated film The Wind Rises.


Japan in Five Lives

Killing Time in Imperial Japan

Dark Blossoms

Japanese Tsunami

Land of the Rising Sums

Japan and Religion

Supernatural Japan

Japan Now 2020

Images of Japan

Landmark: Seven Samurai

Landmark: Rashomon

The Tale of Genji

Godzilla and The Wind Rises  

©2022 BBC Studios Distribution Ltd (P)2022 BBC Studios Distribution Ltd

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  • Brendan Lee Morgan
  • 20-08-22

Very insightful for various aspects of Japanese culture

As someone who studies, Japanese culture and history, this book was very helpful. It had many different aspects that analyzed a whole range of different topics. I really appreciate this compilation.