Home > Life in Japan > Media
  print button email button

Sunday, Sept. 4, 2005


NHK's "Dramatic Earth" offers a history of New York City and more

It's generally agreed that New York City is the most dynamic and important metropolis in the world. A global center of economics, entertainment, media and sports, as well as being the home of the United Nations, the Big Apple is peerless as a center of attention.

But how did it get that way? This week, NHK's documentary series, "Dramatic Earth" (NHK-E, Wednesday, 7 p.m.), offers a history of New York City, which only 400 years ago was nothing but forests and wild animals.

In fact, the main urban feature of Manhattan that made it what it is -- its meticulous grid-like street plan -- was not laid out until the early 1800s. New York's success, in other words, is based mainly on its tradition of careful city planning, which extended to every aspect of infrastructure and development.

Central Park, for instance, is completely artificial, and based on a detailed landscaping plan. The program also shows how specific technologies and personalities shaped the face of New York, and how its most famous architectural features were built.

Japanese architecture has its own prerogatives, mainly lack of space, and this week's edition of Beat Takeshi's art-variety show, "Anybody Can Be Picasso" (TV Tokyo, Friday, 10 p.m.), shows how small houses can also be considered art.

Sometimes referred to as "lucky drops," this new breed of small house proves that a postage-stamp plot of land does not necessarily mean you have to live in a rabbit hutch. Architects Masahiro Ikeda and Yasuhiro Yamashita discuss what can be done with a particularly small, oddly shaped plot of land, whose width at the "front" end is 3 meters and which tapers to a mere 80 cm at the "rear." More importantly, they also talk about designing quality housing to meet limited budgets.

On Saturday at 9 p.m., TV Asahi will present a new production of Masayuki Imai's play "Zero no Kanatae," which has been performed all over the world under the English title "The Winds of God."

Two Osaka comedians, Makoto (Tomomitsu Yamaguchi) and Kinta (Go Morita), are riding bicycles in Tokyo when they're hit by a dump truck. They regain consciousness in 1945, but not of their own bodies. Somehow, their souls have been transported into the bodies of two tokkotai (special forces, or "kamikaze") pilots.

Having grown up in a peaceful, carefree Japan, the two comedians experience severe disorientation at having to suddenly deal with the realities of war.

They attempt to escape their squadron, knowing that Japan will eventually lose the war, but are nevertheless moved by the young men they meet, all of whom have very different opinions about their fate and the responsibilities that have been placed upon them.

Back to Top

About us |  Work for us |  Contact us |  Privacy policy |  Link policy |  Registration FAQ
Advertise in japantimes.co.jp.
This site has been optimized for modern browsers. Please make sure that Javascript is enabled in your browser's preferences.
The Japan Times Ltd. All rights reserved.