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Sunday, Dec. 3, 2006

Channel surf

This week, NHK's "Premium 10" (NHK-G, Monday, 10 p.m.) looks back on the first female idol singing group in "Waga Itoshi no Candies (Our Beloved Candies)."

The Candies debuted April 1, 1973 with the hit "Anata ni Muchu (Crazy About You)," which guaranteed them an appearance on that year's New Years Eve song competition on NHK, which was then the highest honor in show business. The Candies were considered revolutionary not so much because of their music, but their personalities. Until then, pop singers were discovered and promoted for their voices and looks. They were also the first pop stars to be adored by an almost exclusively male fan base.

The documentary chronicles their career, which ended in April 1978 with a farewell concert at Tokyo's Korakuen Stadium, and their lasting influence on Japanese pop culture.

The life of another contributor to Japanese popular culture is dramatized in "Densetsu no Biyoshi (A Legendary Beautician)" (Nihon TV, Tuesday, 9 p.m.), which is about Aiko Yamano, who founded the internationally famous Yamano Beauty College.

Yamano (Maki Mizuno) was born in 1905 in the downtown section of Tokyo, the only daughter to a restauranteur who lived with his mistress, away from Aiko and her mother. The suffering this caused her mother convinced Aiko that she should never depend on a man for her well-being, and she enrolled in a hairdressing school in Ueno.

In the beginning she made a living serving geisha and prostitutes, and after studying Western beauty methods she opened her own shop in Nihonbashi, where she introduced the concept of the permanent wave to Japan.

As her reputation flourished, she desired to have a child and entered into an arranged marriage with a man named Nakaya, who took her name rather than vice versa. Because she still didn't trust men, she made a 10-year contract with her husband that guaranteed his fidelity for at least that long.

The guest on the Dec. 10 edition of NHK's interview show "Top Runner" (NHK-E, 7 p.m.) is Keisuke Matsushima, the youngest Japanese chef-owner to ever receive a star rating from France's prestigious Michelin restaurant guide.

The 28-year-old Matsushima opened K's Passion in Nice more than four years ago, and since then it has become one of France's most illustrious eateries. During the interview he talks about his own passions as well as his "policies" about cuisine and running a high-class restaurant. He also discusses people's "obsession with food" and how that has affected his outlook on life.

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