The Art of Japanese Life


Series 1 - Episode 2 Cities



Dr James Fox’s theme this week is urban life and how three Japanese cities have exemplified the vitality that has always seemed to go hand in hand with destruction in the country: “We are used to recovery,” says celebrated Studio Ghibli animator Isao Takahata. We start in elegant Kyoto, a city with a highly aesthetic sensibility, where Fox rhapsodises over a simple tea bowl.

He rhapsodises in a rather different way to the 18th-century ukiyo-e woodcuts from hedonistic Edo (some are very near the knuckle), and wanders round the glorious mirror rooms of contemporary artist Yayoi Kusama in innovative Tokyo. It’s all quite gorgeous, as are the kimonos created from mud, patience and immense skill in Handmade in Japan, which follows at 10pm.


James Fox explores how the art and culture produced by cities past and present has shaped the country's attitudes and helped forge the very idea of Japan itself.

Cast & Crew

Presenter James Fox
Executive Producer Richard Bright
Producer Ben Harding