We’re very disappointed that one of our all-time TV favorites is no longer being taped on NHK World Japan. “Cool Japan” was a captivating television program broadcast for free and offering a unique perspective on Japan’s culture, lifestyle, and technological innovations.
We contacted NHK World Japan and received the following reply about Cool Japan:
Thank you for your email and inquiry about “COOL JAPAN”
We regret to inform you that the program ended this March and there is no immediate plan to rebroadcast it at the moment; there is no on-demand video available due to the rights restrictions; it is not commercially available on DVD nor in any media format; and merchandise related to the program is not available either.
We apologize that we cannot give you a favorable response; your kind understanding would be very much appreciated.
Thank you very much for being a avid viewer of “COOL JAPAN” and we hope you always enjoy NHK WORLD-JAPAN.
The format of Cool Japan was to gather about eight or ten international guests who lived and worked in Japan as ex-pats. The show would introduce a topic and each of the guests would comment on whether or not they thought Japan’s take on the topic was “cool” or not. The guests might share stories about the topic from their home countries. The show was hosted by Shoji Kokami and Risa Stegmayer and always included a local expert on the topic discussed during that show.
The program featured a panel of Stegmayer, Kokami, a Japanese commentator, and a diverse group of 8 individuals from various countries. Each episode centers around a specific topic, such as Japanese trains, medicine, onsen, muscles, or snow. The foreign participants, organized into pairs, venture out to explore distinctive facets of the chosen theme. Upon returning to the studio, they share their impressions of the explored aspect, highlighting the differences they observed compared to their own countries. Meanwhile, the commentator discussed the historical and unusual details of the topic. Towards the conclusion, Shoji takes on the role of selecting the most captivating aspect of the topic, deeming it worthy of global attention. This chosen element is then designated to be shared with the rest of the world, adding an intriguing dimension to the show’s exploration of Japanese culture.
See the complete list of Cool Japan shows and topics.
The show, with its engaging content and insightful exploration of various facets of Japanese society, became a window for global audiences to appreciate the country’s contemporary charm. Spanning a diverse range of topics, from traditional arts to cutting-edge technology, “Cool Japan” provided viewers with an in-depth understanding of what made Japan so fascinating and influential on the world stage.
One of the show’s notable features was its focus on Japan’s rich cultural heritage. “Cool Japan” delved into the timeless traditions that have shaped the nation’s identity, presenting them in a modern context. Traditional arts, such as tea ceremonies, ikebana (flower arranging), and calligraphy, were showcased with a fresh perspective, emphasizing their continued relevance in today’s society. By juxtaposing these ancient practices with contemporary Japan, the show highlighted the seamless integration of tradition into the country’s modern lifestyle.
The program also took viewers on a journey through Japan’s culinary landscape, exploring the artistry and diversity of Japanese cuisine. From sushi masters perfecting their craft to the regional specialties that reflected the country’s geographical and cultural diversity, “Cool Japan” celebrated the exquisite flavors that have captivated food enthusiasts worldwide. Through vivid visuals and personal narratives, the show managed to convey the essence of Japanese culinary culture, portraying it as a dynamic and evolving tradition that embraces both tradition and innovation.
In addition to traditional arts and cuisine, “Cool Japan” didn’t shy away from showcasing the nation’s contemporary pop culture phenomena. The show offers a close-up look at the world of anime, manga, and J-pop, exploring how these cultural exports have gained immense popularity globally. Viewers were taken behind the scenes, meeting the creators, artists, and influencers who contribute to Japan’s vibrant pop culture scene. The program’s coverage of events like anime conventions and music festivals provided a glimpse into the passion and creativity that drive these cultural movements, fostering a deeper appreciation for the global impact of Japan’s entertainment industry.
Moreover, “Cool Japan” served as a platform to explore the intersection of tradition and technology in the country. Japan’s reputation as a technological powerhouse is evident in the show’s segments on innovation and robotics. From humanoid robots to advancements in artificial intelligence, the program showcased how Japan continues to push the boundaries of technological progress. By featuring interviews with leading scientists, engineers, and entrepreneurs, “Cool Japan” offers viewers a front-row seat to the cutting-edge developments that define the nation’s technological landscape.
The show’s success included not only in its informative content but also in its engaging presentation. “Cool Japan” employed a visually appealing and dynamic style, using high-quality production techniques to capture the beauty of Japan’s landscapes, the energy of its cities, and the intricacies of its cultural practices. The use of expert narration and insightful commentary enhances the viewer’s understanding, providing context and depth to the showcased topics. The result is a well-rounded and immersive experience that transports audiences to the heart of Japan.
“Cool Japan” didn’t limit itself to presenting a monolithic view of the country but embraces its diversity. The program explores the uniqueness of different regions, shedding light on local customs, dialects, and traditions. This regional focus adds a layer of complexity to the viewer’s understanding, emphasizing that Japan is not a homogeneous entity but a tapestry woven with various threads of culture and history.
“Cool Japan” stood as a testament to NHK World Japan’s commitment to providing international audiences with a nuanced and comprehensive view of Japan. Through its exploration of traditional arts, culinary delights, pop culture phenomena, and technological advancements, the show captured the essence of a nation that seamlessly blends its rich heritage with the demands of the modern world. “Cool Japan” served as a bridge, connecting global viewers to the captivating stories and experiences that make Japan a perennial source of inspiration and fascination.