Japan Video Topics 2016-02 (DVD)

Japan’s Red-crowned Crane - The Kushiro Wetlands

The Kushiro wetlands in Hokkaido is one of the world’s great wildlife-watching spots, and one of its most famous attractions is the red-crowned crane. These rare and beautiful birds, classed worldwide as an endangered species, live here all year round but need human assistance to survive Kushiro’s harsh winters. Just fifty years ago, they were rescued from the brink of extinction by the efforts of one local man. Today, park rangers continue his conservation work, protecting this fragile environment to preserve its red-crowned cranes.

 

Capsule Toys - Not Just for Children

Capsule toys from vending machines are hugely popular in Japan. Just centimeters tall, they’re made in a vast range of designs, from anime characters to lifelike animal models, with a charm and quirky humor that appeal to adult collectors as well as children. A current hit (over 10 million sold) is a tiny figurine called Koppu no Fuchiko – a serious looking young woman in office uniform who hangs from the rims of glasses or cups in a variety of poses. We see the toys being created, starting with artists crafting highly detailed molds to express these concepts in miniature form.

 

The Mamachari - Japan’s City Bicycle

Mamachari is the name of the sturdy mommy cycles you see everywhere in Japan. First designed to meet the needs of busy urban mothers, they make it so much easier to transport a couple of kids or a big load of family shopping. These city cycles have their roots in the 1950s, when there was a great demand from Japanese women for bicycles that could be ridden easily in any clothes, and that were safe and stable enough to carry children. This developed into today’s ultra-practical mamachari, now winning fans among both men and women cyclists around the world.

 

Kiri-e - The Art of Cutting Paper

The word kiri-e describes a set of techniques for cutting shapes in paper. Deeply rooted in traditional Japanese crafts, kiri-e is now seizing imaginations in the world of fine art. One major historical use for kiri-e was in Ise-katagami, the craft of making paper stencils for applying color and patterns to kimono fabric. These old traditional methods are still widely practiced by artisans and hobbyists, and young Japanese artists are also exploring the use of kiri-e techniques in groundbreaking ways to produce complex works of amazing beauty that have won acclaim worldwide.

 


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