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Sunday, Dec. 12, 2004

CHANNEL SURF

Nihon TV's "Sekai wo Kakeru Hiro-tachi" and more

The aura surrounding people who become successful abroad is perhaps more pronounced in Japan than in other countries. There's a sense that the cultural gulf separating Japan from the rest of the world is deeper and more difficult to cross, so when someone does it successfully it seems more impressive.

Several such men (no women) are profiled on "Sekai wo Kakeru Hiro-tachi (Heroes Who Ride the World)," (Nihon TV, Mon., 10 p.m.). The main subject is Hidetoshi Nakata, who left Japan when he was 21 to play professional soccer in Italy. He has since become a superstar in Europe. In a rare interview, the normally mediaphobic Nakata discusses the "turning point" in his professional life and relates a number of personal anecdotes, including the time he met Giorgio Armani in Florence.

The program will also look at the careers of actor Ken Watanabe, who is now enjoying a second wind in Hollywood since being nominated for an Oscar for "The Last Samurai"; director Takashi Shimizu, whose Hollywood remake of his own horror film, "Juon," is a huge hit in America; Tadao Ando, the world-famous, self-taught architect; and Seibu Lions pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka, who is about to embark on a career abroad . . . if he can secure a spot with a Major League team.


This week's "Tuesday Special" (Fuji, 7 p.m.) will present a two-hour drama about Kohei Akiyama, the Edo Period samurai hero of a series of popular historical novels by Shotaro Ikenami, who was famous for his fastidious attention to detail.

Akiyama (Makoto Fujita) is now retired and living on a pension with his son, Daijiro, who thinks of nothing but practicing his swordsmanship and would like to return to the life of intrigue that he and his father enjoyed before his retirement.

Akiyama's good friend, Zenzo, recovers from a near-fatal disease thanks to the ministrations of his daughter and opens a dojo. One day, a student at Zenzo's dojo kills a lordless samurai named Ushinosuke, who may himself have killed the father of one of the dojo's teachers, Iyori. When Zenzo's daughter and her new husband become caught up in the deadly vendetta, Akiyama and Daijiro step in.


After France and China, Turkey is considered the country with the most unusual and varied cuisine by people who really care about such things. This week's installment of the world history quiz show, "Sekai Fushigi Hakken (World Amazing Discoveries)" (TBS, Sat., 9 p.m.) will explore the history of Turkish food.

The turning point for Turkish cuisine came around the 11th century, when Mediterranean-style cooking centered in Greece and Rome was incorporated into Turkish dining. For the most part, this meant that Turkey's primarily meat-based diet was supplemented by more vegetables and fish. There is even a theory that pizza originated in Turkey, not Rome.



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