Japan Video Topics 2011-8 (DVD)
Hiraizumi - Once Again a Beacon of Hope
Located in a fertile plain by the Kitakamigawa River, Hiraizumi became the political and cultural center of the Tohoku region in the 11th and 12th centuries, after the end of a period of civil war. The unique culture of its golden age was fostered by the ruling Oshu Fujiwara clan, who ordered the construction of many temples and gardens embodying the Buddhist concept of the Pure Land paradise. Many of these 12 century masterpieces have survived to this day, most notably Chuson-ji Temple with its Golden Hall and Motsu-ji Temple with its famous Pure Land garden. Magnificent representations of this Buddhist Pure Land concept, the gardens and temples of Hiraizumi are now a World Heritage site.
Fukushima's World-leading Aluminum Technology
The small city of Shirakawa, in Fukushima, is home to some of the world's most advanced aluminum processing plants. One of these produces the world's most precise aluminum tubing using its own specialist drawing technology. The plant makes its own dies to draw the raw stock aluminum tube and achieve an incredible, almost distortion free precision of 1/100 mm. These finished tubes are used to manufacture precision parts such as camera lens rings and high-speed train doors. The tubes are the key to an Antarctic scientific drilling project now bringing up 800,000-year old ice samples from depths of over 3000 m in order to study climate change. These Fukushima plants have bounced back from the recent disaster and continue to keep global industry supplied with irreplaceable specialist parts.
The Magnificent Wooden Chests of Sendai
Sendai City in Miyagi, one of the areas of Tohoku hard hit by the Great East Japan Earthquake, is home to a famous craft tradition with a history going back over one hundred years. This is the craft of making Sendai Tansu chests. Made from especially beautiful and durable wood, these chests are treated with a complex lacquering process that allows the grain to shine through, and decorated with fine ironwork fittings. Some of these artisans lost their tools and workshops in the tsunami but, typical of the resilient people of this region, they have overcome the disaster and work on, powered by a determination to keep their family craft traditions alive for future generations.
Keeping the Auto Industry on the Road
The huge earthquake that devastated the Tohoku Region in March seriously affected the auto industry, which relies on many specialist component manufacturing plants located in this part of Japan. Most recovered rapidly and are now back in production, including a small manufacturer of extremely precise metal dies. This technology, with a product reject rate of less than 1%, is used to manufacture the high accuracy components required by automakers around the world. The expressway system, depended on by manufacturers for distribution, also recovered quickly - Japan's road engineers had 90% of the stricken highways open for traffic again just 13 days after the earthquake. The speedy response depended on knowhow and techniques employed and polished every day by the specialists who keep society's systems and lifelines running.