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James May: Our Man In…Japan – Season 1, Episode 4 -Hey Bim! – Review


In the fourth episode of “James May: Our Man in…Japan” entitled “Hey Bim!”, James has traveled from Tokyo to Kyoto but not via Shiki-Shima luxury train and instead via a Kawasaki ZZR400 motorbike.

James temporarily collects a seven-person biker gang to accompany him from Kyoto to Mount Fuji, but they abandon him as he goes to the mountain, where he will meet up with an artist who will give him a painting lesson. From this segment, we only learn two valuable things: that James’ full name is James Daniel May and he is 56 and 3/4 years old and that he has distinct artistic perspective on the world that comes into view during the philosophical argument he engages in with series director Tom Whitter which we will call “Art v. Bus”.

After that lengthy diversion down Argument Lane, James goes to the Yamaha piano-making factory where he tells us he is about to meet a Mr. Suzuki who works for Yamaha and drives a Honda, only to be corrected by the genuine Mr. Suzuki when he arrives on the scene and informs James that he actually drives a Mazda. James would like to work on the tedious job of stringing a piano with piano wire but the piano he has chosen to make his attempt is possibly headed to Elton John and Mr. Suzuki will not allow him to work on Elton’s potential piano. Instead, James is allowed to work on another [read: less important] piano and gets into yet another argument with the director over the length of the segment as James works to master the stringing process. Eventually, the segment ends with James playing a minute portion of a Beethoven sonata.

From there, we move on to a massage parlor where the director has supposedly offered an olive branch of a foot massage to James but James receives a foot pounding disguised as a massage in what is, essentially, an elaborate form of revenge.

James then visits a geisha – an art performer, not a high class call girl, he points out unconvincingly – before finding out that his cross between a lute and a banjo has been partially composed of cat gut.

For this episode, James has eschewed the human guide and employs a robot guide called RoBoHon and in the process of setting up the robot guide, mistakenly nicknames himself Bim. RoBoHon and Bim travel around Kyoto for a bit but we soon discover that RoBoHon only knows information about one bridge in Kyoto and Bim eventually discards him.

In a brief segment that is a nod to his former “Top Gear” and current “The Grand Tour” duties, he ditches his Toyota Land Cruiser for a Daihatsu MOVE as he drives to the Suzuka Circuit to act as a pseudo-race coverage media member for the 48-car Honda N1 [top speed: 97 miles per hour] race where the winner receives a bottle of apple juice and some prized Matsusaka beef [one of the best Japanese beefs – along with Kobe and Wagyu].

James then goes to participate in an Aikido session before ending the episode in a massive bamboo forest outside of Kyoto.

The episode was on par with the last episode but had the extra added benefit of the car race – more in James’ wheelhouse – so we will award it an 87 out of 100.

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