The story starts with Big Bird in Japan to take a bus tour of the major cities in that country. Big Bird and Barkely get off the bus to explore some sites and get frustrated that they don't see the real Japan because they are confined to the bus tour. They get caught up in their sightseeing and forget to board the tourist bus at one of its stops. The bus then leaves with out them and they are left to fend for themselves in a foreign country.
Big Bird in Japan was a follow-up special to . Produced in association with NHK and filmed on location in Tokyo and Kyoto, the special debuted in on NHK in the late fall of , and on in January .
Looking for new programming directions, the Children's Television Workshop has fallen back once more on the good graces of Big Bird. Several years ago there was the special called ''Big Bird in China,'' produced, directed and written by Jon Stone. Tonight at 8 on Channel 21 and tomorrow at 7 P.M. on Channel 13 there is ''Big Bird in Japan,'' written and directed by Mr. Stone and produced by Sonia Rosario. The underwriters are the Sony Corporation and the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association. There is more than one way, obviously, to skin a public-television budget.