He’s known as being part of an iconic trio, first in Top Gear and now in The Grand Tour on Amazon Prime Video.
But James May claimed he found it ‘fantastic’ to not work with Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond in his new travelogue series Our Man In Japan.
Speaking to MailOnline about his new show, the TV presenter, 56, said of going it alone: ‘It’s fantastic. I don’t miss the other two because this is a programme which is about what I think.
‘I don’t miss the other two!’: James May admitted it was ‘fantastic’ not working with Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond on show Our Man In Japan, he told MailOnline
‘It doesn’t make it harder, it makes it much nicer. It’s just me, I can talk all the time! Nobody interrupts.’
The show sees the Grand Tour co-host journey across the Land Of The Rising Sun to discover country’s hidden treasures and showcase its culture.
James called the trip a ‘personal’ programme that he had always wanted to do, but admitted that it ‘was quite hard work’ to make.
‘If it’s not something that genuinely interests you or inflames your passion in some way then you shouldn’t be doing it, because that would come across,’ James said of making the show. ‘The viewers will know immediately if someone is dialling it in.’
Candid: The TV presenter, 56, said of going it alone: ‘It doesn’t make it harder, it makes it much nicer. It’s just me, I can talk all the time! Nobody interrupts’
Close to his heart: James called the trip a ‘personal’ programme that he had always wanted to do, but admitted that it ‘was quite hard work’ to make
As he traverses Japan in the series, James does his best to converse with locals in their native language and use proper etiquette so as not to seem rude, but he admits he had concerns going into filming: ‘They won’t be offended if you get Japanese etiquette wrong.
‘That was the thing I was saying right at the beginning of the show, we’re all terrified of Japan because we all think we’re going to offend everybody by putting your finger in your ear.
‘But, actually, you will get it wrong it’s quite a formalised society with protocols and etiquette and so on, but if we got it wrong on the whole they just laughed at us. We just apologise and move on.
‘So, it’s nothing to be scared of, it’s a very hospitable place, and it’s an incredibly safe place. I’ve never been anywhere where you feel so utterly safe.
Informative: The show sees the Grand Tour co-host journey across the Land Of The Rising Sun to discover country’s hidden treasures and showcase its culture
‘We left our car by accident once down in a murky little side street in Osaka, and somehow or other we left the windows open and the doors unlocked, and all the camera kit and our personal bags in the back seat, and it was fine.’
Of the mistakes he made while filming, James continued: ‘It’s very easy to make mistakes just by mispronouncing a tiny bit of a word, which is probably true in all languages but you just don’t notice it in your own.
‘[With] Yujiro, my guide, I wanted to call him teacher but I actually said it slightly wrong and it meant roll-on deodorant, and one day I said to him “good morning, please will you kill me?” He was a sword maker as well!’
One of the most interesting parts of the show sees James visit a samurai sword maker to help make one of the weapons, but the car enthusiast is happy to admit he’d never own one in real life.
Making mistakes: In the country, James does his best to converse in Japanese, and despite his concerns of offending someone he said ‘if we got it wrong on the whole they just laughed at us’
Fascinating: One part of the show sees James visit a samurai sword maker to help make one of the weapons, but as they’re ‘extremely dangerous’, he was happy to admit he didn’t ‘want one’
‘They’re extremely dangerous if you mishandle them, because they’re very long and very sharp, and even the re-enactment people we joined have samurai swords but they have to cut them at a certain length, they can’t be more than two feet.
‘To have the full-length, real thing costs hundreds of thousands of pounds, and you need to have a licence and pass various tests to check your suitability for owning this amazing weapon. I don’t particularly want one.’
Another highlight of the trip sees James attend the Kanamara Matsuri in Kawasaki, a fertility festival which has in recent years also become synonymous with the phallic-shaped items on display, and available to buy.
‘The thing about that penis festival is it is rooted in a very serious, very heartfelt fertility festival and prayers are mainly couples who want children,’ James explained.
Immersive: James also attended the Kanamara Matsuri in Kawasaki, a fertility festival which has in recent years also become synonymous with the phallic-shaped items on display
Unexpected: James said of the festival, ‘It is rooted in a very serious, very heartfelt fertility festival… but it’s been slightly press ganged by the giant phallic brigade’
‘There’s that whole ritual in the temple, but it’s been slightly press ganged by the giant phallic brigade and as a result it’s become a bit of an Instagram hot-spot.
‘We met people from all over the world at the penis festival. Lots of Americans, Canadians, Europeans, people from India, some Australians, Kiwis, they were all at that festival because they think it’s something you have to go to.’
James blasted people’s fascination with the festival, diminishing its importance, as he added: ‘For the Japanese it is still a Shinto festival that’s all about fertility, for all the foreigners it’s about having a lollipop in the shape of a c*** which is hilarious, but it isn’t really that funny to be honest.’
James May: Our Man In Japan will be available globally on Amazon Prime Video on January 3, 2020.
Cultural experience: James also gets the chance to perform traditional puppet theatre, known as Bunraku in Japan
Out soon: James May: Our Man In Japan will be available on Amazon Prime Video on January 3