Suburban Samurai

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The journey begins in Fujisawa, a Tokyo suburb where the government wages "bicycle war" against local commuters, and grueling three-day Shinto festival quickly deteriorates into a yakuza brawl. Down the Old Tokkaido Road, Karin rides steam trains, joins the spectacular - and dangerous - Gion Festival in Kyoto, investigates the ancient arts of papermaking and calligraphy, and eventually earns the trust of a geisha, who reveals the secrets behind the mysterious Willow World. A 24th generation sword maker in Kamakura demonstrates the art of forging a true samurai blade and even divulges his deadly sword-cutting techniques. The Japanese fascination with its samurai past is amply demonstrated at a festival of thinly-veiled feudal combat, where an old man is injured- perhaps fatally. A samurai mounted archery team reveal another side of the warrior code, as they ride galloping horses while handling a 2 meter longbow, and practice archery while balancing on a tightrope. In nearby Tokyo we find a different breed of warrior - young sumo wrestlers - who train from 5AM each day and lead a life of rigid, feudal discipline. Inspired, Karin travels to Wakayama, to immerse herself in its 48 sacred waterfalls in an icy midwinter ritual.