Fabulous jaunt across Japan
We’ve seen plenty of odd, eccentric chaps such as Michael Palin doing the dotty Englishman Abroad celebrity travelogue, or in Rick Stein’s case culinary reverie, where he encounters the food in foreign parts.
It was inevitable that a wonderfully largerthan-life woman would traipse the same storytelling territory and Absolutely Fabulous star Joanna Lumley is the ideal travelling companion on this voyage across Japan, from the icy Siberian seas of the north to the subtropical islands of the south.
While the 70-year-old is getting on a little in years, there are no references to her age or creaky bones, “the old arthritis”, that characterised Palin’s last adventures and which occasionally pop up when Stein is mooching around. She is simply marvellous, gushing and goshing, gasping and glowing, as she starts her 3200km journey across Japan in Hokkaido, where she travels to meet one of the most important animals in Japanese culture, the redcrowned crane. “To many of us, this is a mysterious and somewhat alien country,” she explains from the frozen deck on an icebreaker, togged up like a glamorous Arctic explorer.
“Travelling north to south, I’m going to discover a Japan that’s as surprising as it is magical — a land of great natural wonder, a rich culture formed over thousands of years,” she tells us before opening her arms and embracing the adventure to come. The cranes prove to be just as irresistible in the frosty early morning, looking like they have wandered straight from a traditional Japanese painting. “Of course, I wouldn’t get out of bed at this hour for anything less than 1000 cranes,” Lumley says, just a little reminiscent of Patsy. Sunday, 7.40pm, ABC.
Joanna Lumley is a charming travelling companion on her 3200km journey through Japan