photographic and film impressions of Japan taken by Alan Macfarlane
and Sarah Harrison, 1993-2006, with additional films taken by Windfall
is impossible to convey the richness and complexity of Japanese history
and culture in words alone. The book was derived as much from these
experiences as from reading and conversations. Here are a few of our
encounters with Japan during our visits. You can see video clips on
all sorts of subjects, which have been uploaded to 'Youtube', by clicking
the selections below:
Japan we saw a miscellany of sights: goldfish and graveyards, restaurants
and manga bars, homeless people and houses, topiary and ice creams....
cities, shops, night life, travel on the bullet train (shinkansen) give
the impression of a very rich, urban and consumer conscious society.
Japan is not just a huge city and there are some pretty villages and
islands as well...
were deeply impressed by the wonderful temples, shrines, large houses
and gardens which are famous around the world, especially in Kyoto and
shrines and temples, and the streets around them, come alive at certain
times with rituals, processions, dances, and
presentations of children.
rituals blend into the arts and performances (koto music, bunraku puppets, dancing and plays) for which Japan is famous.
in turn merge into ritualized sports and leisure activities such as
sumo wrestling, kendo fencing, tea ceremonies and hot baths.
objects used in all of these ceremonies and pursuits are crafted with
enormous care. We saw paper making, pottery, sword-making, basket work,
lacquer and other crafts. An assembly of objects in the Kyoto craft
museum, and the Edo museum of nineteenth century Tokyo life illustrates
many of the artefacts.
only do the Japanese shape inanimate objects, but also faces and bodies,
most famously in the painting and dressing and performances of the maiko
they also carefully shape their children in an intensive education system
which we glimpsed.
how Japanese history has evolved over the last thousand years, and some
thoughts on how Japan is similar and different from China and England
led to a number of reflections by Alan Macfarlane in connection with
the Channel Four series on a visit in 1999.