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Sunday, Aug. 29, 2004


Fuji TV's legal variety show "The Judge" and more

Married life is tough enough even without the notion that one's spouse is more of a competitor than a partner. That idea is the subject of this week's installment of the talk show "Kon'ya wa Koibito Kibun: Totte-oki Fufu Monogatari (Tonight Lovers' Feelings: Special Couple's Story)"; (NHK-G, Wednesday, 11:15 p.m.), where longtime married couples discuss their relationship from the standpoint of romance with essayist and supershopper Usagi Nakamura. This week's couple is Mariko Koike and Yoshinaga Fujita, who are both novelists and have been married for 20 years. When they wed, they were struggling writers and their mutual goal of success bound them to each other. But eight years ago Koike won the prestigious Naoki Prize for her novel "Koi," and Fujita felt like a failure. It became very difficult for the two of them to live in the same house. Five years later, Fujita won the Naoki, but by that point the two had transcended their differences as a couple to the point where they now believe that marriage is the domain of "love," while "romance" is more easily found outside the home. Consequently, Koike and Fujita regularly spend about 10 days of every month away from each other.

Though fortune-teller Kazuko Hosoki may not be hot in the predictions department (she was wrong on some of her Olympics forecasts) she remains a guaranteed ratings booster on television. This Friday, she's the guest on a special two-hour version of Fuji TV's legal variety show "The Judge" (7 p.m.). Using dramatic re-enactments and discussions with lawyers, the show will look into some legally sticky incidents from Hosoki's controversial past, including a bitter inheritance dispute. Other segments will also work the celebrity show-biz angle. A housewife gets into legal trouble because of her obsession with the Korean soap opera, "Winter Sonata," and a previously happy family is shown to be destroyed by a sensational television show.

On Saturday at 9 p.m., TBS's world-history quiz show, "Sekai Fushigi Hakken," looks at one of the few foreigners who has ever been honored with a royal title in the Kingdom of Bhutan. That man was Kyoji Nishioka, a Japanese agricultural expert who came to the Himalayan country in 1964 to teach local farmers methods for improving crop yields. He brought with him a number of vegetables grown in Japan, as well as Japanese strains of rice. It was not easy to convince Bhutan's farmers to try the new crops and new methods because tradition is very important in Bhutan. Nishioka effectively worked within the farming traditions and lived the rest of his life in the kingdom, where he eventually became a hero. After receiving his title, his name was changed to Dasho Nishioka, and when he died 12 years ago a state funeral was held for him. It is the only time in the kingdom's history that a state funeral has ever been held for a foreigner.

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