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Sunday, June 6, 2004

CHANNEL SURF

"Kaiteki Sumaeru Navi" on TV Tokyo and more

The new series, "Kaiteki Sumaeru Navi (Comfortable Living Navigation)" (TV Tokyo, Monday, 10 p.m.), satisfies its viewers' hunger for information about better residential spaces than the ones they occupy by visiting five gorgeous or unusual private homes. This week's menu:

* A house in Chiba that has been specially designed to accommodate its owners' two dogs. The huge living room is given over to the pets and features a heated, slip-resistant terra-cotta floor and an air-purification system to remove dog smells.

* A besso (vacation house) in Karuizawa that caters to people who think that a good bath is the be-all and end-all of life. The house features a Jacuzzi in the living room that can be converted into a dining table.

* A huge, traditional Japanese house in Gunma that has 40 shoji sliding doors -- even in the bathroom and the toilet.

* The upscale Tokyo district of Azabu, a house on a very narrow piece of land with a facade that is only 1.6 meters wide.

* Three generations of a Shizuoka family who live in three old Japanese houses arranged in tandem and connected by a 30-meter-long doma, or indoor dirt corridor.

Believe it or not, there was a time when the members of SMAP were unsophisticated, callow youths. That, of course, didn't stop them from hosting their own TV show, a legendary variety program called "Kiss shita SMAP," which ran for three-and-a-half years starting in 1993.

Partly as a 10-year anniversary commemoration and partly as a way of embarrassing SMAP leader Masahiro Nakai, TV Asahi is reviving the show on Tuesday at 12:16 a.m. Nakai and a group of guests will sit around and watch the show along with the viewers at home and comment derisively on Nakai's early emcee efforts, since it was on "Kiss" that he first developed his skills as a TV host. Along the way, they will discuss SMAP's evolution and try to recreate some "classic" moments from those old shows.

If you ever considered taking up zen but weren't completely sure of its benefits, check out this week's "NHK Special" (NHK-G, Saturday, 9:15 p.m.), which is a profile of Ekiho Miyazaki who, at 104, is the oldest Buddhist priest in Japan.

Miyazaki is the head priest of the 800-year-old Eihei Temple in Fukui Prefecture. Orphaned as a child, he came to Eiheiji when he was 11 and has been there ever since. He follows a strict ascetic lifestyle, meaning no meat or fish, and no sex. The temple was founded by the great Buddhist philosopher Dogen, who taught that enlightenment does not come through conscious understanding, but through daily routine and attitude.

The program follows Miyazaki's own strict daily routines, which include copying sutras and zazen (meditation), his travels throughout Japan to teach, and his relationship with unsui (young itinerant monks).



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