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FEATURE/ NOVA Brings Award-Winning Japanese Wildlife Filmmaker Mitsuhiko Imamori to America to Discover the Ecosystem of Japan's Largest Freshwater Lake in Japan's Secret Garden.

Features/Nature/Natural Wildlife/Entertainment/Television/

Asian-American Cultural Editors & Writers

FEATURE...

BOSTON--(BUSINESS WIRE FEATURES)--Dec. 12, 2000

NOVA PRESENTS JAPAN'S SECRET GARDEN

Tuesday, December 19, 2000 at 9:00pm ET on PBS

Available in HDTV

Editors Note: Screeners and photography are available by contacting Jonathan Renes, NOVA, 617-300-4427.

NOVA explores the bountiful joint venture of Japan's rice farmers and unique ecosystem from the viewpoint of the little creatures that live in Lake Biwa, Japan's largest freshwater lake, on Japan's Secret Garden, airing Tuesday, December 19 at 9pm ET on PBS (check local listings). The program follows a full cycle of the farming year from spring flooding, the birth, hunt and death of numerous wildlife, to the rice harvest and the numerous ecological challenges and manipulations of the farmers.

Shot in HDTV, the program is a labor of love for Japanese filmmaker Mitsuhiko Imamori, an award-winning wildlife photographer and cinematographer celebrated for his astonishing images of the miniature world of insects. Applying many of his amazing microphotography techniques, Imamori has produced a stunning portrait of the intricate web of life sustained by the traditional farmers of his native land.

THE HISTORY OF RICE CULTIVATION

Rice cultivation first started in marshes at the mouths of rivers, then spread to flood plains that could be easily irrigated, and finally expanded to elaborately engineered terraces, with reservoirs and channels that allowed farmers to transform their rice fields into either wetland or dry land according to the season.

The region around Lake Biwa is eminently suited to this enterprise. Located just north of the ancient capital of Kyoto, Lake Biwa is fed by more than 500 rivers that descend from the rugged forested interior.

Although terraced fields have radically altered the hillsides, the rice-growing system enables a vast diversity of insects, fish, amphibians, and birds to thrive in the same landscape as humans. The annual flooding of nutrient-rich mountain water ensures that the fertility of the soil is constantly renewed. Small patches of woodland are deliberately planted among the fields to prevent erosion. Over centuries, countless insect and plant species have adapted themselves to fit the agricultural rhythm.

THE CYCLE OF THE FARMING YEAR

The farming year begins with the spring flooding during which Imamori captures the struggles of big catfish as they squirm their way upstream to lay eggs in the newly planted rice fields. Then he takes viewers underwater to witness a startling attack by the rice paddy's most vicious predator, the giant water bug.

After five months of summer, the rice is harvested and dried in the sun. The insects abandon the dry fields in search of water, many of them migrating to carp ponds. Meanwhile the farmers are tending to the woodlands, thinning them to encourage new growth while harvesting firewood, turf, nuts, and mushrooms. Oak limbs are cut into logs that are stacked for the cultivation of shiitake mushrooms, sowed by first drilling holes in each log, inserting mushroom spores, and then plugging the holes.

The people also follow their age-old rituals, from stringing persimmons in the autumn sun in a scene as evocative in Japan as October pumpkins are in America, to the annual torchlit procession by the lake to give thanks for the abundance of the agricultural cycle made possible by satoyama.

Now in its twenty-seventh season, NOVA is produced for PBS by the WGBH Science Unit. The director of the WGBH Science Unit and executive producer of NOVA is Paula S. Apsell. NOVA is closed captioned for deaf and hard-of-hearing viewers by The Caption Center at WGBH Boston. Narrated descriptions of NOVA programs are provided by Descriptive Video Service(R) (DVS(R)), a national service of WGBH Boston. Major funding for NOVA is provided by the Park Foundation, the Northwestern Mutual Foundation, and Sprint PCS (R).

Executive Producer: Paula S. Apsell

Narrated by David Attenborough

Produced and Directed by Shinichi Murata and Tetsunori Kikuchi

A Production of NHK, Inc. for NOVA/WGBH.

(c) 2000 WGBH Educational Foundation
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