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Listen to Excess Baggage for

02 June 2007

Japan is a country made up of over three thousand islands.  The largest ones are Honshū, Hokkaidō, Kyūshū and Shikoku.  With the world's tenth largest population of about 128 million people, it is a land of great contrasts and has always been something of an enigma to the western world.  While absorbing many of the trappings of the modern industrial age, it has retained its own ancient ways of life, customs and traditions as well as putting its own stamp on the new ones.

John McCarthy is joined by three guests who have not only been to Japan as short term visitors but liked the place so much they decided to live there for a while;

Julie Bromilow has recently returned from an extended stay in Japan on an project researching education in sustainable development;

Dr Simon May was invited as a visiting professor of philosophy to Tokyo University and wrote about the ‘powerful quirkiness of ordinary things in Japan’ in his book entitled Atomic Sushi;

Events manager, Sophie Branscombe organised the 2001 Japanese festival in London and has lived in Japan, exploring and travelling around the country, learning the language and the ancient arts of the tea ceremony and flower arranging.

Presented by John McCarthy

The torii (gate) of Itsukushima Shrine, in the town of Miyajima on Itsukushima Island, Hiroshima Prefecture, Japan

Photo:  The torii (gate) of Itsukushima Shrine, in the town of Miyajima on Itsukushima Island, Hiroshima Prefecture, Japan.  It is one of Japans most popular tourist attractions, and the view of the gate in front of the islands Mount Misen is classified as one of the Three Views of Japan.

This week’s guests:

Julie Bromilow
works in environmental education with the Centre for Alternative Technology in Machynlleth in mid Wales.  She has just returned after spending eighteen months in Japan on a government scholarship researching education in sustainable development.  Julie had previously travelled to Japan to teach English in Tokyo.

In keeping with her environmental interests she went to Japan and back by land and sea.  On the way home he travelled 11,000km by train, 2,000 by sea and 400 by bus. 

International WWOOF Association (IWA)

WWOOF is dedicated to helping those who would like to volunteer on organic farms.

Dr Simon May is a Fellow of Philosophy at Birkbeck College in London and specializes in German philosophers.  In 2001 following a paper Simon had written on the ethics of Nietsche, he was invited to Tokyo University. Simon had already made several short visits and wanted to get a deeper understanding and experience of the country.  He has since returned several times.

Simon recorded anecdotes from everyday life, his encounters and friendships with students, a sushi master, kimono weavers and Zen priests in Japan, in his new book ‘Atomic Sushi’.

Atomic Sushi
Publisher: Alma Books Ltd
ISBN-10: 184688022X
ISBN-13: 978-1846880223

Sophie Branscombe is an events manager for the Mayor’s office currently organising the Coin Street Festival which takes place this weekend.  She organised the 2001 Japanese festival for the Japanese embassy in London.  She took a masters in Japanese art and has also managed the Japanese Beatles.  She worked in the Japanese tourist office in London and has contributed to the latest (2005) Rough Guide to Japan.

Sophie lived in Japan for three years and has since been back often to visit friends and to explore parts of the country she hasn’t visited before.

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John McCarthy John McCarthy is a widely travelled journalist and presenter with a particular interest in the Middle East.
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