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Sunday, May 23, 2004

CHANNEL SURF

"Noka no Yome ni Naritai" premiers on NHK and more

The flight of young people from rural areas into big cities seems irreversible. Though the problem is usually discussed in terms of lifestyle choices, the fact is there isn't much money in agriculture and young women don't want to marry farmers.

NHK supposes something different in its five-part drama series, "Noka no Yome ni Naritai (I Want to be a Farmer's Wife)," which premieres Monday on NHK-G at 9:15 p.m. Kyoko Fukuda plays Kazuko, an office drone at a Tokyo trading company whose boyfriend, Makoto (Shunsuke Nakamura), is an "elite salaryman."

One day, out of the blue, Makoto breaks up with Kyoko, quits his job, and returns to his hometown in the country. Kyoko, heartbroken but undefeated, follows him and discovers that he has decided to take over his family's vegetable farm. She says she wants to stay, but Makoto and his grandmother (Nobuko Miyamoto) don't think Kazuko is cut out for the farming life, and tell her to return to Tokyo. However, Kazuko spends the night in the village drinking with some locals at a festival.

Leading the charge of Japan's economic resurgence are the nation's automobile companies. Even Hiroshima-based Mazda, which was at death's door a few years ago before being taken over by Ford, has been doing well.

Mazda's banner product used to be the rotary engine, which Ford isn't interested in. Mazda's engineers, however, are attempting to revive the device as a matter of pride. This week, "Project X" (NHK-G, Tuesday, 9:15 p.m.) is broadcasting a re-edited version of a program that was originally shown in November 2000 about the development of the rotary engine, which is smaller and quieter than piston engines but delivers comparable horsepower.

The idea of a rotary engine has been around for 200 years, but it wasn't until Kenichi Yamamoto, an engineer with the company that eventually became Mazda, started developing one for cars that the idea became a reality. The program charts the rise of Mazda from the ashes of postwar Hiroshima to the perfection of the rotary engine in the early '70s, and includes interviews with Yamamoto, who is still alive.

Everybody wants to be their own boss. "Piko & Osugi's Rich Man A vs. Poor Man B" (Nippon TV, Wednesday, 11:40 p.m.) offers advice on making your independence dreams come true by showing you what not to do.

Each week, the voluble twins Piko and Osugi look at a particular line of work and discuss how to be successful in it. Stylized dramatizations illustrate the right way (Rich Man A) and the wrong way (Poor Man B).

This week's occupation is Ginza Bar Hostess. Hostesses earn on average about 4.8 million yen a year; however, popular bar hostesses can make as much as 36 million yen a year, and bar owners (or "mamas") can make 50 million yen. But it isn't easy. It requires a sizable investment and an exceptional talent for flattery.



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