JLC: Turning Japanese

Thursday 10 February, 9:00pm on Five

This hilarious three-part documentary series follows Justin Lee Collins as he heads east and attempts to get to grips with Japanese culture. As Justin’s three weeks in the country draw to a close, he samples the day-to-day life of a typical Tokyoite, enjoys a less than relaxing break on Hokkaido and visits one of Japan’s eeriest places. On the last leg of his trip to Japan, Justin is back in Tokyo with the intention of spending a few days living like a native. The sprawling city is the most densely populated metropolitan area on Earth, with 35 million individuals jostling for space. Justin’s week begins just before eight in the morning on the subway, which many Japanese salarymen and women squeeze onto at some point during the average 60-hour working week. Justin finds the journey hot, stressful and bewildering. At every stop, more and more people squeeze wordlessly on, but few get off. Justin’s painful journey leads him to a viewing at one of the city’s famously tiny flats. “It would ultimately drive me crazy,” he says, shaking his head as he looks around the miniature two-room apartment. After grabbing a meal of hotdog and fries from a nearby vending machine, Justin heads to a capsule hotel, where �25 buys customers the chance to sleep in a space little bigger than a coffin for the night. “It’s not really the city of choice for the claustrophobe,” Justin remarks as he attempts to squeeze into his cubbyhole. With all the stress going to his head, Justin decides to cut loose and take a break away from the city for a few days. “I’m out of sync with Tokyo,” he complains. “I’ve not fallen in love with it – so far.” Justin’s destination is the city of Hakodate on the country’s northernmost island, a popular holiday retreat for Tokyo’s busy workers. Justin and translator Mai check into a traditional Japanese inn, where they promptly settle down for a ninecourse meal. Squeamish Justin picks gingerly at each course, but he reaches the boundaries of his comfort zone when a large, hairy crab arrives on the table. The next morning has more fishy surprises in store for Justin. Squid sashimi is a famous local delicacy, and at the market delighted customers fish for their own specimens in a giant tank. However, Justin remains resolutely unconvinced that he will enjoy this culinary experience. “Don’t look at me,” he yelps as he reels in his dinner. “He’s got a big face,” Justin explains to a mystified Mai.

About the author

  • BBC One
  • BBC Two
  • BBC Three
  • ITV1
  • ITV2
  • 4
  • E4
  • Film4
  • More4
  • Five
  • Fiver
  • Sky1