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Sunday, Aug. 31, 2003

Channel Surf

If you live in Tokyo, chances are you ride the Yamanote Line. According to JR, about 4 million people board the loop line every day. In addition, during peak commute hours 550 cars are traveling in one direction, meaning that in both directions there are more than 1,000 train cars on two stretches of track, each of which is only 34.5 km long.

These and other nuggets of trivia about the Yamanote Line will be offered up in this week's installment of the documentary show "Super TV" (Nippon TV, Monday, 9 p.m.). The fun facts range from the commonplace (it takes 60 minutes for one train to go through all 29 stations) to the reassuring (drivers cannot operate the line for more than two successive rounds).

In-depth reports include a look at Shinjuku Station, which, in keeping with its status as the busiest train station in Japan, has the largest number of kiosks. The 22 JR kiosks in the station serve 750,000 customers a day, more than the population of Tottori Prefecture. The clerks have to memorize the prices of 500 different items because they spend an average of 5.8 seconds on each sale and are required to juggle up to five purchases at once.

There is also a report on the "closing door" jingles, which are unique for each station, and a preview of what the Yamanote Line may look like in the near future after it undergoes some changes.

It is still the season for ghost stories, and on Friday, Sept. 5 at 9 p.m., Fuji TV will present an omnibus of scary tales that are supposedly based on true stories.

"The Stain": One day, Kensuke suddenly tells his wife, Kaori, that he wants a divorce. After he leaves that night, Kaori starts to notice a dark spot on the wall of the apartment. The spot grows and grows until it forms the shape of a woman's body, life-size.

"The Weird Tale of the Hospital Ward": A young woman named Shiho is hospitalized after a traffic accident. She shares a room with an elderly woman named Kiyomi and they become good friends. One day, Kiyomi is transferred to a private room, but still stops in every day to chat with Shiho.

"The Haunted House": After their only son dies in a freak accident, Ritsuo and his wife drift apart emotionally and divorce. He lives alone in a house in the suburbs -- and one day hears the sound of a child running through the rooms.

"The Midnight Prowler": Kunihiro is diagnosed with an illness and his doctor suggests he join a fasting tour. On the tour he becomes acquainted with a woman named Yaeko. They both see a ghost of a woman that no one else on the tour can see.

"The Corpse Proposes": Hiroko is busy preparing for her wedding, which is two months away, but as the big day approaches, she starts seeing a shadow which she comes to believe is that of her old high-school boyfriend who died when he was 17.

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