James May: Our Man in Japan

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James May: Our Man in Japan
James May Our Man in Japan.jpg
Written byJames May
Henry Dalton
Directed byTom Whitter[1]
Presented byJames May
Country of originUnited Kingdom
No. of series1
No. of episodes6
Executive producersWill Daws
Tom Whitter
ProducersKate Godfrey
Henry Dalton
Frankie Fathers
Mark Richardson
Production locationJapan
CinematographySean Carswell
Camera setupSingle-camera
Running time47‒53 minutes
Production companies
  • Plum Pictures
  • New Entity
Original networkPrime Video
Original release3 January 2020 (2020-01-03)
External links

James May: Our Man in Japan is a travel documentary hosted by James May and released via Prime Video in 2020. The journey is presented as a linear journey travelling from the north end of Japan, via Sapporo and Tokyo to the south island.[2] Activities undertaken include Japanese swordsmithing, and attending the Kanamara Matsuri penis festival in Kawasaki City.[2]

The concept had originally been pitched to the BBC a number of years earlier, but not commissioned.[3] Production started in March 2019,[1] with the show being filmed over the course of three months.[4]


During the episodes May is accompanied by a series of guides/translators.[5]

No. in
TitleOriginal release dateLength
1"Go!"3 January 2020 (2020-01-03)0:49
May begins the journey through Japan at Cape Soya, the northernmost tip of Japan on the island of Hokkaido, where he tries dog sledding, yukigassen competitive snowball fighting, plus fishing and eating octopus as food. James learns about the making of samurai swords and attempts to order Japanese noodles from a food ticket machine restaurant.
2"Cabbage Roll"3 January 2020 (2020-01-03)0:47
May visits the northern region of Tohoku, where he engages in a Gundam-style giant robot duel piloting "LW-Mononofu" against "Land Walker". May bathes in a natural onsen hot pool following a Yamabushi retreat to the Three Mountains of Dewa. In Sendai, May goes to a Zenryoku Boys J-pop concert followed by clothes shopping. May travels to the deserted town of Namie, Fukushima on the edge of the Fukushima Exclusion Zone, before arriving into Tokyo on-board the Shiki-shima luxury train.
3"Deodorant"3 January 2020 (2020-01-03)0:50
May starts in a helicopter above Tokyo before meeting guide Yujiro Samurai Taniyama in a cat café. Together they celebrate cherry blossom, eat bento, sing karaoke with salarymen, take part in the Kanamara Matsuri fertility festival, and review automated toilets in Japan. May gets pulled over by the police, then meets Minoru Mukaiya, a train melody composer, to write a jingle for "James May Sumimasen" station. Ends with consuming conveyor belt sushi, May voice acting as a dog at the Yoyogi Animation Academy, and walking through the TeamLab Borderless interactive digital video exhibit at Mori Art Museum.
4"Hey Bim!"3 January 2020 (2020-01-03)0:51
May travels from Tokyo to Kyoto, where an unhelpful robotic guide, which is supposed to show him Kyoto's temples and shrines, repeatedly informs May about the Sanjō Ōhashi bridge over the Kamo River. James joins a biker gang, riding a Kawasaki ZZR1400 motorbike, to view Mount Fuji where May attempts to interpret the mountain in a painting. James is entertained by a geisha who treats him to a traditional tea ceremony.
5"Peach Boy"3 January 2020 (2020-01-03)0:52
May arrives in Osaka, where he attempts pachinko but spends his winnings on takoyaki octopus balls and Kobe beef. James and Yujiro attempt to perform British humour to a comedy audience. May also visits a sumo wrestling stable, the Korakuen Garden in Okayama, the Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima, and the Itsukushima Shrine at Miyajima.
6"Pickled Plum"3 January 2020 (2020-01-03)0:51
May starts in Shikoku, where he cycles across a series of suspension bridges. James also tries his hand at kyūdō Zen archery, gets buried (along with Yujiro) in hot sand, and visits Nagoro, a deserted village filled with scarecrows.


Critical reception[edit]

The series currently holds an 8.4 out of 10 on IMDb and 4.4 out of 5 on its official website Amazon Prime Video.[6][7]

Lucy Mangan for The Guardian gave the series three out of five stars. She praised the travelogue's inclusion of "under-publicised aspects of the [Japanese] culture" but noted May's interaction with the television crew as low-brow and "strenuously jocular".[8]


  1. ^ a b Clarke, Stewart (11 March 2019). "'The Grand Tour' Star James May Heads to Japan for Solo Amazon Series". Variety. Retrieved 7 January 2020. Production started this week.
  2. ^ a b Mangan, Lucy (3 January 2020). "James May: Our Man in Japan review – penis festivals are no place for jokes!". The Guardian. Retrieved 5 January 2020.
  3. ^ May, James (24 December 2019). "'The Grand Tour's James May On His Japan Adventure For Amazon, The Future Of TV & Spending Less Time With Jeremy Clarkson". Deadline Hollywood (Interview). Interviewed by Jake Kanter. Retrieved 7 January 2020.
  4. ^ Kanter, Jake (12 December 2019). "'The Grand Tour' Star James May Planning To Pitch Version Of His BBC Show 'Man Labs' to Amazon". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 6 January 2020.
  5. ^ Prizmi Tripathi (4 January 2020). "Will There be a James May: Our Man in Japan Season 2?". The Cinemaholic. Retrieved 12 January 2020. other cast members are Yujiro Taniyama, Masayo Fujii, Makiko Kobayashi, Hacchan Hatanaka and Mai Nishiyama.
  6. ^ James May: Our Man in Japan (Documentary), James May, Yujiro Taniyama, Masayo Fujii, Makiko Kobayashi, 3 January 2020, retrieved 2 April 2021CS1 maint: others (link)
  7. ^ "Watch James May: Our Man in Japan". Amazon Prime Video. Retrieved 2 April 2021.
  8. ^ Mangan, Lucy (3 January 2020). "James May: Our Man in Japan review – penis festivals are no place for jokes!". the Guardian. Retrieved 10 November 2020.

External links[edit]