On My Watchlist!

Many countries are gradually easing up on restrictions and we’re beginning to see a glimmer of hope that life will eventually return to some sense of normalcy. As much as I’m looking forward to going out again, I’ve looked to the wide range of free-to-view programmes available on the NHK World-Japan website to get some inspiration.

So far I’m loving the insider information and exposés on the sights and cultures of Japan (especially of the outdoors!), which gives a deeper insight into what foreigners commonly know of Japanese culture.

Watchlist #1

Face to Face: Azuma Makoto: Breathing New Life into Flowers

Duration: 28 mins, available until June 28, 2021

Putting flowers in space, one bouquet at a time

Floral artist Azuma Makoto has created some esoteric installations, from a bouquet suspended above the planet’s stratosphere, to a sculptural piece at the bottom of the sea.

A snapshot from Azuma’s breathtaking installations, which is left to wilt on camera

To help the spirits of those affected by Covid-19, Azuma has begun uploading videos on social media showing the transient life of flowers in all its glory. For those who love flowers, the video offers a teaser into his resplendent Covid-19 projects.

The same flower installation on the day it was finished – can you spot the lilies?

A unique consideration of Azuma’s is showcasing all stages of a flower’s bloom. A corner of his studio is dedicated to observing flowers as they wilt – this knowledge is incorporated in highlighting each bloom to the fullest as the flowers decay. This reflects Azuma’s deep philosophy which parallels flowers to each stage of human existence.

Azuma critically observes a flower before noting down its condition on a blackboard

Besides introducing his works, Face to Face also explores Azuma’s unintentional foray into the floral industry and personal growth. In 2016, Azuma travelled the world to explore humanity’s universal appreciation and cultural importance of flowers.

Recipients of Azuma’s flowers in India share their appreciation

Azuma’s story is inspiring and uplifting to those of us stuck at home. As we are unable to meet with our loved ones, flowers have become a proxy for expressing our emotions, from congratulatory wishes to condolences. In the face of Covid-19, Azuma’s social media is now bursting with life, and definitely worth a follow.

Watchlist #2

Direct Talk: Inspiration from Everyday Life: Yoshitake Shinsuke / Children's Book Author

Duration: 15 mins, available until April 27, 2021

Yoshitake Shinsuke, one of Japan’s famed children’s book authors, is lauded for his ability to capture the mundane in humorous slice-of-life stories entertaining for children. In this expose, we learn more about the man behind the illustrations and his inspirations.

Yoshitake’s most popular book Still Stuck, featuring a little boy stuck in his tshirt

Still Stuck focuses on the everyday obstacle of getting stuck in clothes from the relatable perspective of the child, through his worries and wild imagination. I could easily imagine my young nephews as the main characters of the book.

Get a sneak peek into the whimsical pages of Still Stuck

Rather than “educating” children, Yoshitake aims to create spaces for ordinary kids to express themselves through his characters. In The Boring Book, a child considers different solutions to escape boredom at home. Yoshitake wants each child to think – what would I do?

The Boring Book featured on the 2019 New York Times list of best illustrated children’s book

Coupled together with minimal but adorable illustrations, it’s no wonder Yoshitake’s books resonate with children around the world. Head into this Direct Talk episode for more sneak peeks of his adorable works!

Reviewer

Yonghui

Quarantine-time-only chef and baker who is temporarily enjoying travelling on the interwebs.

About NHK WORLD-JAPAN

NHK WORLD-JAPAN is the international service of Japan’s public broadcaster, NHK.
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