NHK WORLD-JAPAN Video on Demand Reviews: creativity during lockdown

On My Watchlist!

The health and safety measures imposed to battle the coronavirus pandemic have become the new normal of our everyday lives around the world. While countries are still battling with cases, I’ve turned to the wide range of free-to-view programmes available on the NHK World-Japan website to gain some inspiration for my own future albeit delayed plans. I’m pleasantly surprised to find so much uplifting and original content on Japanese culture and in particular, how they’re dealing with lockdown.

Watchlist #1
TOKYO EYE 2020 - Tokyo and the Coronavirus: Food to the Rescue

Duration: 28 minutes, available until October 28, 2021

In times of shared crisis, it’s heartwarming to see communities band together to support each other. Host Winnie Hsu, an avid volunteer herself, shares about how her volunteering experience in Mitaka has benefited herself and brought the community closer.

Chirin Chirin Mitaka is an online platform by Mitaka resident Hama Eriko that connects farm and restaurants to households


In Mitaka, local volunteers have stepped up (or rather, rolled up) to redistribute the food supply chain so that local resources aren’t wasted. After a day of following a local deliveryman, you realise that this project is definitely a labour of love.

I’m struck by how professionally organised the system is, which is all the more impressive now that the platform has 30 participating businesses.

Mitaka farms are an unexpected green surprise in Tokyo’s urban concrete jungle

Chirin Chirin has not only helped local businesses gain traction in the community, but offers an alternative source of income for those whose jobs have been affected by the pandemic, to tide over this challenging period.

Starting young – children help businesses in their local community with hand drawn ads for a cute homey feel

In addition, this episode also introduces various social media initiatives, also driven by community volunteers, that help promote local F&B outlets. The feature I found particularly heartwarming was the proliferation of non-profit children’s cafeterias.

Children gather for a nourishing homecooked meal at one of Japan’s 500 children’s cafeterias

Although not a new concept, children’s cafeterias plays an important role during the pandemic especially for young children who live under the poverty line. When gatherings were prohibited, they quickly switched to delivering ingredients, bento boxes, hosting online cooking classes and even tutoring.

This children’s cafeteria hosted a bento distribution event after long months of inactivity due to the lockdown

One can indeed appreciate the palpable sense of community being built through sharing food. The spirit of altruism amongst Tokyo locals to revive their neighbourhoods and care for each other is really a silver lining in these trying times.

Watchlist #2
15 Minutes- Starting Over: Case 1 - Hotels, Old and New

Duration: 15 minutes, available until October 28, 2021

NHK’s new Starting Over series examines the challenges faced by industries hit hardest by the coronavirus pandemic, with this first episode focusing on hotels.

The iconic Shibuya crossing, once bustling, has fallen silent amid lockdown restrictions

Hotels in Tokyo in particular had been preparing for an Olympic-fueled tourism boom when the unexpected happened. It’s astonishing to hear that hotels like The Okuda, a long-established and distinguished hotel, had undergone extensive renovations for 5 years to receive guests, only to host none.

Socially distanced wedding guests and a livestream recording service in action

Initially facing a roadblock, The Okuda has turned to offering part online weddings with livestreaming services in order to host to smaller, safer affairs.

Perched atop the newly built rooftop Miyashita Park, this hotel would have delighted international tourists

Meanwhile, the new MIYASHITA PARK hotel welcomed its first guests only after lockdown was lifted. Through Starting Over’s special access, we gain behind-the-scenes insight into the difficulties faced by hotel staff in training and customer service .

On opening day, unorthodox self-check-in procedures clashed with newly implemented safety measures and caused long queues

The hotel business is rigorous to begin with, and this episode aptly demonstrates how hotels are attempting to work around new restrictive measures that go against the nature of Japan’s iconic customer service standards.



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


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