Japan: Earth’s Enchanted Islands, Episode 2: South-West Islands

For those who tuned in last week, on BBC’s latest 3-part natural history series on Japan you might have seen that there is a whole lot of wildlife outside (and some inside) the large metropolises that have up until now probably shaped your preconception of what Japan has to offer. There are black bears that roam the mountains that have in the past hosted the winter Olympics, the countryside is host to frogs that make nests out of foam (and females that have up to 5 males fighting for her, lucky thing) after which the males run the slippery gauntlet back to the forest Takeshi’s Castle-style, fireflies that symbolically used to be considered the floating spirits of the dead, wild deer that have learned to bow for a biscuit in holy places and magical blue discos that happen underwater as the firefly squid come up to spawn in spring time.

Japanese Macaque on Yakushima

Japanese Macaque on Yakushima

The Atlas Moth

The Atlas Moth

Tonight at 9pm on BBC Two, tune in to follow the second part of the story, as we go further south and visit the islands that make up the tropical south. Islands that draw divers from all around the world visiting a secret that lies just beneath the surface, and where on land you have both the large – the Atlas moth, the largest moth in the world – and the dwarf-like. Where nature creates lush forests with some of the oldest trees in the world (like on Yakushima). Where an interesting relationship has formed between its original inhabitants, but animals have had to adapt as well to a human presence – like this island robber crab. It is steeped in ancient tradition – tradition of its own ancient Ryukyu kingdom rather than that of the mainland, and is where Karate originated.

Yonaguni panorama

Yonaguni panorama

Record macaque calls

Record macaque calls

Filming on the tropical island of Yakushima

Filming on the tropical island of Yakushima

Working closely with NHK

Working closely with NHK

Filming at night on location

Filming at night on location

And the story’s not over yet.

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