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Sunday, Dec. 21, 2003

CHANNEL SURF

Channel surf

NHK is presenting a six-part drama series during the week leading up to the New Year's break. The title of the series is "Kawa, Itsu-ka Umi e (The River, Someday Flows to the Sea)," a phrase that acts as a metaphor for the series' twin themes of death and love. These overall themes are established on Sunday, Dec. 21 at 9 p.m. (all subsequent installments begin at 10 p.m.; all are on NHK-G), in an episode which tells of the love between Ryoko, the daughter of a fisherman, and a man from the mountains who never gets used to living by the sea. Their stormy union produces a daughter, Tami, whose own marriage is falling apart. She and her husband, Shinpei, follow the river from their harbor to find its source, and along the way deposit a ukitama (ball-shaped buoy) in the current, which acts as a unifying force for all the stories.

Monday's drama is about a salaryman who lost everything after being laid off. He and his wife take a live-in job as managers of a small inn on the river. His frustration is displayed in fits of anger that his wife accepts patiently. Tuesday night's couple have reached a point in their marriage when they no longer express love. The husband, a bureaucrat, is sent to a small town whose inhabitants are violently divided over a dam project. It also happens to be the wife's home town. Wednesday's story is lighter. The president of a company that is the sole employer in a small river town is a serious theater buff, and has established a community drama company that he directs. However, one of his actors in "Romeo & Juliet," in a bid to win the heart of an actress he has a crush on, tries to change the play so that it has a happy ending. The boss is not amused. Tami and Shinpei reappear Thursday night. They are now divorced, and Tami works as a groundskeeper at a soccer stadium downstream. Shinpei tries to forge a reconciliation.

On the last night, the series comes full circle as the widowed Ryoko and the people of the harbor come to grips with the disappearance of one of the local fishermen. Ryoko's husband disappeared in a similar way, and she communes with his spirit to gain relief from her suffering.

Last year, the Emperor visited Poland, where he met with two people who once lived as refugees at a special orphanage in Japan in the 1920s. On the Emperor's birthday, Dec. 23, at 9:33 p.m., Fuji TV presents a drama special, "Warsaw Autumn," about this orphanage. During the days of czarist rule, when Poland was under Russian rule, many Poles were sent to Siberia. Following the Russian Revolution, these Poles fought against the Red Army. Orphans of Poles who died in Siberia made their way to Vladivostok, and the Japan Red Cross eventually brought them to a special facility in the Kansai region. The drama focuses on one nurse, Yoko (Yuko Takeuchi), and her work in the orphanage.



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