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Sunday, March 7, 2004

CHANNEL SURF

Being thrifty on TV Tokyo's "Sunday Big Variety" and more

On March 3, the 83-year-old actress Mitsuko Mori played the part of the Showa Era writer Fumiko Hayashi for the 1,700th time at the Chunichi Gekijo in Nagoya. Mori has been playing the part in the play "Horoki" for 43 years all over Japan.

On March 9 at 9 p.m., TBS will present a special one-hour program commemorating Mori's achievement. Filmed mostly backstage at a performance in Hakata last December, the special will celebrate Mori's extraordinary career, which spans almost seven decades. During that career, the actress experienced many hardships, both professional and personal, and at one point almost died of tuberculosis. The program will also look into Mori's technique. Though she has performed "Horoki" many, many times, she always goes over her lines before every show. The program will also include interviews with show-business admirers, many of whom are young enough to be her grandchildren.

Last September NHK presented a special in-studio discussion among 88 hikikomori individuals. "Hikikomori" is a popular term used to describe agoraphobic shut-ins. It is estimated that there are between 500,000 and 1 million hikikomori in Japan.

One of the purposes of the discussion was to allow these 88 individuals to connect with one another in order to help them come out of their shells. On this week's "NHK Special" (NHK-G, Saturday, 9:15 p.m.), one of the participants is profiled.

The subject is a 30-year-old man who until last September had not left his room for 15 years. The source of his anxiety has something to do with his antagonistic feelings toward his father, but he tends to take out those feelings on his mother. During the program, which was filmed over the past six months, the man confronts his father with his feelings and enters into regular communication with another hikikomori individual whom he met at the NHK discussion.

Though the government has announced a rise in Japan's GDP, it will be a while before the average citizen feels the benefits. It's still necessary to save money, and on next week's "Sunday Big Variety" (TV Tokyo, March 14, 7:54 p.m.) the subject of "superstinginess" is explored in various forms.

A husband in northern Japan spends money freely -- up to 30 percent of his paycheck a month -- which means his wife has to be extra thrifty since they have four daughters. She spends only 2,000 yen a month on food, but still serves up three full meals a day.

A 19-year-old boy studying confectionery in Osaka has to save money in order to visit his girlfriend in Shizuoka. He limits food costs to 2,000 yen a week and doesn't heat his small apartment.

A middle-aged couple who want to replace their old house with a revenue-generating apartment building live on practically nothing. The wife picks wild vegetables for dinner and her cheerful personality helps her to grub food and unwanted possessions (which she later sells at flea markets ) from neighbors and friends.



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