Fab­u­lous jaunt across Ja­pan

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Television Free To Air - Joanna Lum­ley’s 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

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