“Ryokou” — the Japanese expression for the word ‘journey’ — is a story about the determination of an Australian athlete, set amongst the backdrop of the Land of the Rising Sun. The series explores Shane Perkins’ journey to re-define his career, whilst taking up the challenge to become a champion rider in the National Keirin Series competition in Japan, 2012/2013.

The documentary has been split into five chapters with one part being released every day this week. This is chapter 4 and you can find chapter 1 here, chapter 2 here and chapter 3 here.

Here’s what Josh Capelin, co-producer of Ryokou had to say about chapter 4, “Solitary”:

As you can tell, we followed Shane everywhere. We’re not sure if it’s the inherent politeness in Japanese people, or perhaps no one had ever filmed in a supermarket before, but we filmed Shane shopping in a supermarket for over an hour. There were no security taps on the shoulder, no annoyed people, just the ultraviolet plastic reflections of lights off plastic amidst scenes of the everyday.

Shane’s Japanese home, which he leased for the first time so Kristine and the kids could join him, was not 5km from here. Next door was a huge place called Kainz home, aka Japan’s Ikea. The previous day Shane and Scott Sunderland had gone shopping together to buy essential items for their respective homes. Prized purchases were a black, floor sofa thing that somehow didn’t need arms to stay bent. One could fit in a shopping trolley and sure enough, Shane and Scotty each left with one.

Shane likes eating. He has to. To power his 89.3kg frame he needs more nutrients than is humanly possible to consume. If he lies in bed all day, his body would go through more calories than yours does in a normal day as you go about your work.

So he likes shopping too.

Shopping in Japan is a wonderland of packaging. Liquids, solids and everything in between vie for your sweet and salty tastebuds. We would see all manner of people collect their weekly basket, but perhaps a sight most lasting was that every so often you’d see a very elderly couple whose backs would be bent at almost 90 degrees at their hips. Together, husband and wife would shuffle along and incredibly, still manage to haul a 20kg bag of rice off a bottom shelf onto their trolley. No wonder they’re still going.

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