In search of lost worlds

Most Westerners have heard about the legend of Atlantis, but how many have heard about the lost kingdom of Nan Mador? Like Atlantis, Nan Mador was supposedly as big as a continent, and stretched from Micronesia in the South Pacific all the way to Easter Island off the coast of Chile.

But whereas we have no physical evidence of there ever being a city of Atlantis, there are ruins in the South Seas of a civilization that very well could have been Nan Mador. Located approximately 3,700 km south-southeast from Japan is a collection of 92 artificial islands that are surrounded by a huge wall of coral and basalt. These “floating ruins” are believed to be all that’s left of a great city.

At 2 p.m. on Feb. 9, TBS will present a special 90-minute documentary about Nan Mador, hosted by Egyptologist Sakuji Yoshimura and actress Sachiko Kokubu. From approximately A.D. 500 to 1600, the islands comprised the kingdom of Sautoral, which was a city resembling Venice, but in the middle of the ocean. Transportation was provided by boats that traversed canals between the islands.

What’s left of this kingdom are huge, 8-meter high coral pillars in the water that are believed to have been the foundations for the king’s residence. The kingdom is long gone, but the islands are still inhabited and, in fact are now being threatened by global warming. What’s left of the artificial islands is gradually sinking below the rising oceans.

Another country left in ruins, but by a civil war fueled by foreign intervention, is El Salvador in Central America. Much has been written about the immense human toll of the long conflict, but on “Suteki-na Uchusen Chikyu-go (The Great Spaceship Earth)” (Asahi TV, Feb. 9, 11 p.m.), reporters will study the effects that the war had on the land itself.

The Salvadoran Civil War began in 1980 and lasted more than 12 years. About 80,000 people were killed in the conflict. In addition, forests were decimated and soil completely ruined by the use of napalm. More than a decade after the end of hostilities between the government and leftist rebels, the soil of El Salvador in the countryside is the hardness of brick, and thus worthless for cultivation. The napalm wiped out all the micro-organisms that kept the soil fertile.

The documentary will show how citizens from both sides of the conflict are struggling to work together to revitalize the soil and replant forests that vanished in the 1980s.

A civil conflict of a different nature is the subject of the ambitious, two-part, three-hour NHK drama, “Africa Hizume” (NHK-G, Feb. 15, 7:30 & 9:15).

Takao Osawa plays Dr. Sakuta, an idealistic young physician studying in a fictional African country where the former white colonial rulers are still bent on domination. As he goes about his rounds, Sakuta begins noticing a strange skin rash that is plaguing many black children in the country. The rash, however, does not seem to be affecting any of the white children.

After a virologist diagnoses the rash as smallpox, Sakuta discovers that only white children are being vaccinated against the deadly disease. He uncovers a vast conspiracy by a group of white supremacists who are trying to wipe out the entire black population of the country. The supremacists effectively quarantine the country, ostensibly to contain the disease, but actually to keep all information inside. The rest of the world does not know anything about this genocide. Sakuta is trapped within but understands he must somehow break through the border to the outside world and expose the conspiracy. NHK spent almost two months on location in Africa filming the drama, in which Osawa is the only Japanese actor.