Rita Cowan, like no Scottish woman before her, was ready to embrace the East.

But the East was not ready to embrace her.

This is the moment Rita, just 25 and almost alone in a world of which she knew nothing, reached out to hug her Hiroshima sister-in-law. And had to be stopped by her Japanese husband before she committed a shocking faux pas.

The meeting is re-imagined in a new blockbusting mini-series - this picture is a still from the show - that is set to propel both Ms Cowan, already an iconic figure in Japan as the woman who brought whisky to their country, and Scotland deeper than ever into the consciousness of the Land Of The Rising Sun.

Called Massan, the new mini-series sees Ms Cowan stumbling in her new life in Japan. Megumi Iwasaki, of Japanese TV NHK, explains the first encounter with her sister-in-law in about 1920. "At that time, Japanese people didn't hug at all - they still don't hug much now, culturally," he said. "So her husband stopped her and she was, like, 'Oh, oops'."

Ms Cowan was to live in Japan for 40 years, even through the Second World War, and eventually spoke Japanese so much so well that she almost forgot English. Her husband, Masataka Taketsuru, was to found Japan's first whisky distillery, Nikka.

Massan, in which the pair are renamed as Ellie and Masaharu, is their story, although with some dramatic reinterpretations. It is not clear, for example, that the real Ms Cowan would be more likely than any other young Scot of her generation to hug people she had just met. But some 20 million viewers will watch, massively increasing awareness of Scotland in Japan, just as the independence referendum makes news there too. Broadcasting begins on September 29.

NHK hasn't filmed any scenes in Scotland - but will use backdrops.

Mr Iwasaki said: "We have taken footage of beautiful Scottish scenery. And we are going to use that footage in the drama. However, all the acting takes place in Japan, so we are filming in places that somehow resemble Scotland, such as a row of white birch trees, a wheat field, and a lakeside."

Ms Cowan met her future husband when he studied, briefly, at Glasgow University in 1919. He had lodged with Ms Cowan and her widowed mother in Kirkintilloch, having arrived in Scotland to learn how to make whisky with an idea to compete with the Scotch that was, even then, a staple of the Japanese Navy.

New research by Glasgow University shows how isolated the young man, then 25, was when he arrived. Lesley Richmond, the university's archivist, has found he was the only Japanese student in Glasgow at the time.

She said: "He was following a well-trodden path as lots of Japanese students would have come in the 19th century to study engineering and shipbuilding. There was a Japanese honorary consul at the time so he may have had introductions to other Japanese people. But it was still very uncommon for foreign students to marry locals."

Glasgow University now has thousands of overseas students - and it had hundreds in the post-war era. Mr Taketsura came for just 12 lectures over three months or so. His course was shorter than his journey from Japan to Scotland.

Ms Richmond has rooted out his matriculation card - the university has three miles of such records going back to the 1400s - and discovered his neat, careful English handwriting and the address of his digs, at Rita Cowan's home. "It is such an amazing story," she said.

Massan - the show is named after Ms Cowan's pet name for her husband - is described as a roller-coaster, much like the classic morning dramas on NHK. But it remains firmly based on the life of a Scot who, for love, crossed the world to make a new life.

Actress Charlotte Kate Fox - set to be a household name in Japan - has compared her own ordeal, learning Japanese for her role and leaving her native America, to "courageous" Ms Cowan's.

She said: "What she did, what she sacrificed, how she stood strong in the face of so much hardship and adversity … these facets of her have made her into more than just a character, they have made her into one of my personal role models.

"I have agents, managers, directors and crew, yet Rita had none of that when she arrived in Japan. She just had the love for her husband. They leaned on each other all the time. It is so inspiring."