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Sunday, Aug. 6, 2006

CHANNEL SURF

Superstar spituralist in Fuji's "SMAP X SMAP" and more

Superstar spiritualist Hiroyuki Ehara is the special guest this week on "SMAP X SMAP" (Fuji, Monday, 10 p.m.). The boy band will host him in the SMAP Bistro, where he orders "spiritual potato cuisine," saying that the lowly spud is "spiritual food" since it "boils up human energy," whatever that means.

The soft-spoken fortuneteller is supposedly making his first appearance on a TV show as a regular tarento rather than as a spiritualist. SMAP leader Masahiro Nakai starts talking to Ehara about his own childhood and before you know it, Ehara has unearthed all sorts of interesting things about him. He then goes on to analyze the lives of the other members of the group, changing the mood in the studio considerably.

There is still controversy over the so-called Manchurian Incident of 1931, when a section of Japan's South Manchuria Railway was blown up. The Japanese said it was the work of Chinese dissidents, while the Chinese said it was done by the Japanese military, who wanted an excuse to invade Manchuria.

In any case, the invasion happened and Japan occupied the region until 1945. On Friday, NHK will present a documentary, "Manmo Kaitaku-dan (Manchurian-Mongolian Development Group)" (NHK-G, 10 p.m.) about the armed advance team that helped prepare Manchuria for the 270,000 Japanese civilians who would eventually settle there. Most of the information presented in the program is based on documents that were given to NHK by the descendants of Kaneo Tomiya, the army officer who led the group. The program attempts to clarify the Japanese government's plans and decisions regarding the invasion and the exploitation of Manchuria, which was publicized at the time as a paradise on Earth. Of course, it eventually turned into hell on Earth when the war took a turn for the worse and the Japanese settlers were abandoned by their own government.

Four years ago, 52-year-old explorer Yoshiharu Sekino completed a 10-year, 53,000-km "Great Journey" from the southern tip of Chile to Tanzania, generally considered the cradle of humanity. His purpose was to find out how human beings spread throughout the planet. He used no mechanized transportation methods. He walked, bicycled, used a kayak, and sometimes rode an animal.

This week, Fuji TV's documentary special, "Saturday Premium" (9 p.m.), looks at Sekino's current project, which is to find out how ancient peoples moved from the Asian continent to the Japanese archipelago. The trip, which started in Siberia in the summer of 2004, sticks to the same ground rules as his "Great Journey," though it's unlikely to take as long. The trick is to go north, not east.



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