Japan: Earth’s Enchanted Islands, Episode 3: Hokkaido

This is the end. The final episode of 20 months work is on TV tonight, BBC Two at 9pm. It’ll be over in an hour, in a flash. And what an overwhelming response it’s got from the public. I was hoping it would go down well but it has gotten stellar viewing figures so thanks, everyone, for all your support.

Sunset over the Notsuke peninsula

Sunset over the Notsuke peninsula

Last week was probably the most surprising episode for those unfamiliar with Japan – the monkeys riding deer was repeated to me by various friends,  and the sea snake ladies demand a huge amount of respect. The only place these snakes can bite humans is in between the thumb and finger, and that’s what they expose to these highly venomous creatures. The smallest wild boar species and the largest land arthropod. Few people think of Japan as having a tropical side, and I hope it’s opened the eyes of those who only think of cherry blossoms and big cities when they think of Japan.

Cameraman Toby Strong filming red-crowned cranes

Cameraman Toby Strong filming red-crowned cranes

This week’s episode is one close to my heart – mainly because I know the island very well after my 6-week hitch-hike stint for my masters dissertation (see this photo gallery on Hokkaido on my website). And it’s got what you’ve been waiting for – the red-crowned crane. See it in all its glory in the summer and in the winter, when temperatures regularly reach -15C. It’s got the beasts of the bunch – brown bears that co-habit beaches with fishermen in peace and harmony (this sequence made even me go ‘wow!) and my personal favourite, the Steller’s sea eagle. And it’s where the Japanese go to get away from the hot, humid summers on Honshu for milder climates and air to breathe and where they farm flowers such as lavender in stunning arrays – they often refer to Hokkaido as ‘oo-zora’ or big sky. The autumns rival Canadian colours and this is the only island where a native people once roamed. It’s going to be out with a bang, hopefully, so tune in and enjoy the final episode of BBC’s Japan series tonight.

Cameraman Graham MacFarlane in the Shiretoko Peninsula

Cameraman Graham MacFarlane in the Shiretoko Peninsula


Cameraman Toby Strong filming Steller's sea eagles

Cameraman Toby Strong filming Steller’s sea eagles


A male deer rutting on the Notsuke peninsula

A male deer rutting on the Notsuke peninsula


Notsuke peninsula

Notsuke peninsula


Siberian chipmunk

Siberian chipmunk


Siberian chipmunk scratching

Siberian chipmunk scratching


Red-crowned crane with its chick

Red-crowned crane with its chick


A 'ezo' or Hokkaido fox

A ‘ezo’ or Hokkaido fox

While you’re on the web, here’s an exclusive clip only online about the coming of spring on Hokkaido – and now that you’ve seen all 3 episodes, why not test your knowledge on the BBC’s website with a quiz?

Steller's sea eagles and white-tailed sea eagles huddled together

Steller’s sea eagles and white-tailed sea eagles huddled together


Red-crowned cranes

Red-crowned cranes

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