SHOWCASE: NHK & NEP Encourage the Rediscovery of Japan

Oct 12th, 2022

Presenting dazzling landscapes and stories rich in history, NHK has a bevy of programs being sold to the global market by NHK Enterprises (NEP) that entice viewers to discover—or rediscover—Japan.

Iriomote: The Fabric of Life features footage of the Iriomote cat, a subspecies of the leopard that lives exclusively on the Japanese island of Iriomote and was discovered in the 20th century with just 100 in existence, and of the parenting behavior of the endangered crested serpent eagle. It also presents footage of the ruddy kingfisher, which catches hermit crabs and smashes their shells against rocks in order to eat them. Diverse filming techniques were used to capture footage of the dispersal of offspring from mangroves, the spawning of corals, the flowering and pollination of Barringtonia racemosa (the powder-puff tree) and Enhalus acoroides (a kind of seagrass), along with other phenomena among fauna and flora whose lives follow the natural rhythms created by the ocean. 

Cycle Around Japan

The program incorporates the perspective of Akiko Ishigaki, an 84-year-old woman living her life according to nature’s rhythms. Ishigaki is an internationally acclaimed dyeing and weaving artisan who makes yarns from plants on the island, weaves them into fabrics and dyes the fabrics using mangroves. Her creations have been shown at venues such as the Museum of Modern Art in New York. 

The subject of The Unknown Master of Restoration is the art restorer Mayuyama, who meticulously and flawlessly repairs broken pottery. To him, ensuring that treasures are passed on to future generations in a better state is more important than praise for his seemingly God-given skill. NHK Enterprises hopes that viewers will relish the magic created by the human eye and the human hand.

There are six new episodes of Ninja Truth ready for the market. The series focuses on the arts and tools employed by ninjas in an attempt to demystify these superheroes. Through entertaining experiments, it brings the audience closer to the “ninja truth.” 

New episodes are also available for Cycle Around Japan, which rolls through the lush springtime greens of Mt. Fuji, flower-filled Hokkaido and the ancient city of Kyoto. The program invites viewers on a journey to see a side of Japan they won’t find in guidebooks.

The documentary From Foe to Fortune: Living with Nuisance Wildlife spotlights Dr. Masateru Inoue (nicknamed Masane), an expert in the control of so-called nuisance animals. Masane’s approach is not to exterminate them but to coexist with them. The way in which Masane lives openly as her true self and how people in relatively conservative rural villages accept her hint at what’s essential for any society to become truly inclusive. The documentary is sprinkled with moments of humor and shows how an unusual story played out in the kind of mountain village that is far from unusual in Japan.

“We hope people will discover the Japan of today through a diversity of programs that reveal not only the riches that Japan has in terms of its topography, plants, animals, culture and history but also the lives and perspectives of the people who live there,” says Mayuko Hori, senior producer in the Content Value Development Center at NHK. 

Alongside this array of factual programming, NHK’s dramas are also a draw for the international market. Its dramas have played well in Taiwan, Hong Kong, South Korea and other parts of Asia in their original versions, and NHK has put effort into marketing the finished programs in light of strong international demand. 

With regard to remakes for its dramas, inquiries have come from clients in the U.S., China, South Korea, Turkey and Israel. This gives NHK Enterprises confidence that NHK’s dramas have strong potential in the international market. The company is introducing a lineup of six new dramas at this year’s MIPCOM and plans to step up its marketing efforts for remakes.

“NHK has a rich variety of dramas,” says Afumi Watanabe, chief manager in the content distribution department of the Content Distribution Department of the Content Development Center at NHK Enterprises. “Notably, the multi-award-winning The Aromantics is a story with an unprecedented point of view in that it shows how an aromantic, asexual male-female twosome finds happiness after an unexpected turn of events leads them to start living together. We also have other dramas with fresh, unconventional themes, including Zombies Made Me Reconsider My Life, a black comedy in which the hidden desires of three female friends are revealed as they face the sudden outbreak of zombies.”

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