Program 369: Aniakchak Alaska; Bird Brains; Japan Inc.

Release Date: 06-28-2014

On Air Description

If you had wings, where would you fly? On the next Travel with Rick Steves, we learn how studying the remarkable intelligence of different bird species can take you around the world, and even teach you what it means to be human. We'll also hear about a hiking journey across one of Alaska's least-visited and most amazing wilderness reserves. And we'll get a journalist's view on how Japanese society is coping with economic pressures in recent years.

Get a close look at some surprising places, on this week's Travel with Rick Steves.


  • Travel writer Christopher Solomon
  • Noah Strycker, author of "The Thing With Feathers" (Riverhead Books)
  • Mike DeJong, editor-in-chief of EuroBiz Japan
  • Japan feature from public radio producer Jake Warga

Related Links


  • "We've loved seeing puffins on Haystack Rock at Cannon Beach, Oregon in the summertime, and bald eagles.  Do you have any recommendations for a good pair of binoculars that would help us see them close-up?"  (e-mail from Ali in Spokane, Washington)

Incidental Music

  • Medicine Dream, "Jalasi," Identity / (self-released)
  • Apollo Chamber Orchestra, JoAnn Faletta, cond., "Clouds of Forgetting, Clouds of Unknowing Clouds of mixed 3rds  (composed by Alaska-based John Luther Adams)," John Luther Adams:  Clouds of Forgetting, Clouds of Unknowing / New World Records
  • Steve Roach, Kevin Braheny, Richard Burmer, "Desert Prayer," Western Spaces / Chameleon
  • Sigur Ros, "#8, aka Popplag," Screaming Masterpiece (collection) / One Little Indian
  • Alaska Children's Choir, "Spring Returns," Spring Fjord / (self-released)
  • Leif Ove Andsnes, "Humoresque-Bagatelles for piano, Op. 11-FS22, No. 1 'Goddag! Goddag! Goddag!' and No. 5 'Dukke-Marsch,' (Carl Nielsen, composer),"  A Portrait / EMI Classics
  • * Medicine Dream, "Medicine Dream," Identity / (self-released)
  • Soothing Sounds of Nature Series, recorded by Stan Tekiela, Bird Songs of the Northwoods / Adventure Publications
  • Katia and Marielle Labeque, "'Voliere' from 'Le Carnaval des Animaux,' (Saint-Saens)," Carnival!  (collection) / The Rainforest Foundation - RCA Victor
  • Troka, "Klockar Aleksanteri," Nordic Roots (collection) / NorthSide
  • Hover Chamber Choir of Armenia, "The Healing Bird," Six Fables - based on the writings of vardan aigektsi / Pomegranate Music
  • Dave Harris and the Powerhouse Five, "The Penguin," Cocktail Mix vol. 1:  Bachelor's Guide to the Galaxy (collection) / Rhino
  • * Uman, "Bird's Eye View (Rhythmic Remix)," Traveler '99 (collection) / Six Degrees Records
  • Osamu Kitajima, "Small Wonder," Behind The Light / Higher Octave
  • Ryuichi Sakamoto, "Calling From Tokyo," Virgin Nineteen-Ninety (sampler) / Virgin
  • Hiromitsu Agatsuma, "Curfew," Beams  / Domo Records

Dated References

  • In the billboard, Mike DeJong is quoted as saying "baseball in more fun in Japan than in Canada or the United States."
  • Chris Solomon notes at 7:58 that Aniakchak Monument had "maybe 100 visitors last year," and only 19 in 2012. 
  • Mike DeJong notes at 41:15 that Michelin has ranked more top-ranked restaurants in Tokyo (16 in Tokyo, 32 nationwide) than in its home base of Paris (10 in Paris, 26 across France).
  • Mike says the Japanese call the triple-disasters of March 2011 "3-11."  His interview also references how foreign investors have left Japan in favor of rising powers such as China, India, and Singapore.  At 43:07, Mike calls the economic policies of Prime Minister Abe "Abe-nomics," and adds at 43:30 that the Japanese economy has slowed "this year" (early 2014).  
  • At 44:20, Mike describes Japan's demographic problems as having a population 25% over age 65, and one of the lowest birthrates in the developed world.  Rick adds at 45:08 that Europe has been having the same aging issue, which makes it difficult to sustain entitlements. 
  • Mike responds to Rick's question about shareholder pressures at 46:35 that in the last decade, Japan's "lifetime employment" guarantee has gone away with layoffs, and prompting an increase in nationalist sentiments.  Mike calls Prime Minister Abe "a very strong nationalist" at 47:50.  He adds that the education system "whitewashes" Japan's atrocities from World War Two, which feeds complacency and a "victim" mentality. 
  • At 52:25, Mike says Prime Minister Abe has promised to address the lack of women holding management and parliamentary positions in Japan.