JOANNA LUMLEY’s latest TV travelogue left her with an image she can’t shake off.
Now something of a globetrotter, Joanna Lumley’s Japan is her new series. It takes her on a 2000-mile trek across the country, but nowhere made a more telling impression than the Peace Memorial Park in Okinawa.
It was the first part of Japan to be invaded by the US in the Second World War and is characterised by tunnels in which thousands of young Japanese men committed suicide.
“It has haunted me,” admits Joanna, whose father fought in Burma against the Japanese.
“It was one of the most ghastly things, which brought into my life what war is.
“It was boys who considered themselves to have failed as their country has been invaded so they blew themselves up. I know we were at war but it broke my heart. I just thought, ‘We need to stop all war’.”
Joanna also visited the nuclear exclusion zone set up following the Fukushima power plant disaster.
“You’re only allowed in for five hours.
“I knew it was safe otherwise they wouldn’t let us in and when we came out we weren’t radiated, but we took care and washed our outer garments.”
There are lighter moments in the three-part series and Joanna says one of the most enjoyable aspects was simply not being recognised.
“In cities people always know who you are because they have travelled and get a lot of international television,” she adds.
“But I don’t think Ab Fab was translated into Japanese and it’s always lovely travelling in a country where they don’t know you.
“You are freer.”
Joanna Lumley’s Japan, ITV, Friday, 9pm