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Sunday, May 4, 2003

CHANNEL SURF

Movers and shakers

The J-pop singing duo Kinki Kids are considered "first-class idols" by everyone in show business. However, the premise behind "The Domoto Brothers" (Fuji; Sunday, 10 p.m.) is that they're struggling musicians. On this weekly half-hour show, Tsuyoshi and Koichi Domoto -- who, despite having the same family moniker, aren't actual brothers -- play at being buskers.

Though most idols are famous for not being musicians, Kinki Kids worked hard to learn how to play guitar. This process was an integral component of their popular Saturday night series "Love Love Aishiteru," which ran during the late '90s. Seventies folk god Takuro Yoshida taught the two teens how to play guitar from scratch on air, and over the course of four years they went from fumble-fingered neophytes to decent pickers.

Each week on "The Domoto Brothers," the Kids go out on the street, usually with a famous musician guest, and play for passers-by. The location is never announced beforehand so as to make the reactions of potential listeners that much more spontaneous. However, the conceit behind the project is that the Domoto Brothers are waiting for their "big break" into show business.

On May 4, the show will mark its 100th installment by remaining in the studio for a performance by the Domotos and their new band that will be broadcast live. Alfee guitarist Toshihiko Takamizawa and Puffy's Yumi Yoshimura will be among the pros backing the two.


It seems that plans to move the nation's capital out of Tokyo have been shelved indefinitely, a development that certainly pleases recently re-elected Gov. Shintaro Ishihara, who actively campaigned against the move. It wasn't the first time, however, that moving the capital caused agitation among Japanese leaders.

On May 7 at 9:15 p.m., NHK-G will present a historical documentary, "Japan's Phantom Plan to Change the Capital," which is about a controversial scheme to move the seat of government to Osaka at the start of the Meiji Restoration.

In 1868, with the end of the Edo Shogunate, the Meiji Emperor made the journey from the Imperial Palace in Kyoto to Edo Castle, which is now the Imperial Palace in Tokyo. This historic event was preceded by a great deal of backroom negotiations among the various ruling interests. Kyoto had been the capital for 1,000 years, but Toshimichi Okubo, the leader of the influential Satsuma clan from Kagoshima, thought it should be moved to Osaka. Okubo believed that the emperor needed to be separated from the more conservative influences that surrounded him in Kyoto so that he could more readily bring Japan into the modern world after 300 years of isolation under the Shogun. Not surprisingly, the noble class vehemently opposed such a move. Though Osaka and Kyoto seem close to each other by today's standards, they were considered worlds apart in the mid-1800s. Then there was a third group centered on the remnants of the Shogunate that also opposed moving the capital to Osaka.

The documentary chronicles this battle of wills in detail and explains how Osaka was eventually dropped and the capital was moved to Edo, which was duly renamed Tokyo, or "eastern capital."


Nostalgia is the theme of the new drama series, "Anata no Jinsei Ohakobi Shimasu" ("We Will Carry Your Life"; TBS, Thursday, 10 p.m.), which takes place in the '70s and is about Japan's first moving company.

Until the '70s, there were no firms that specialized in moving a family and its possessions from one home to another, mainly because there wasn't much of a need. People in Japan didn't move. When they did, they simply hired a truck and did it themselves.

The series, which takes place during the economic hard times precipitated by the "oil shock" and the "dollar shock," follows a young couple, Maki (Norika Fujiwara) and Kentaro (Tomomitsu Yamaguchi), as they develop Kentaro's truck-driving job into the first removal business that caters to families.

In episode 5, it is 1975, and Kentaro runs into his junior high school girlfriend and takes down her telephone number. Meanwhile, Maki is trying to come up with a means to promote the fledgling company and decides to rename the firm so that it will be listed at the front of the telephone directory. Then, she finds the phone number in Kentaro's pocket . . .



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