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Sunday, Dec. 10, 2006

Channel surf

It looks as if fresh fish will become less available in the future as ocean stocks are depleted by over-harvesting, so you might as well get it while you can -- and as cheap as you can. The TV Asahi special "Zenkoku Oishii Kaiten Zushi Kettei-sen" (Nationwide Delicious Kaiten Zushi Tournament; Mon., 7 p.m.) will direct you to the best kaiten zushi (where the sushi moves past you on a conveyor belt) establishments in Japan.

The special is set up as a tournament. The nation is divided into four regions, each one covered by a group of reporters who check out the most popular kaiten zushi restaurants. The reporters convey pertinent information such as volume, variety, special toppings and price back to the Tokyo studio, where host Masami Hisamoto and her guests evaluate the data and decide on the best kaiten zushi restaurant in the country. Among the reporters are sexy idol Eiko Koike, ultra-effeminate makeup artist IKKO, and fish expert Sakana-kun.

Sakana-kun also pops up on this week's edition of "Suiyo Tokuban" (Wednesday Special; TBS, 6:55 p.m.), which will look at the trend of "super zoos" throughout Japan and the world.

Right now, Japan is experiencing a zoo and aquarium boom that was led by the well-publicized expansion of Asahiyama Zoo in Hokkaido. Asahiyama, with its famous cold weather animal exhibits, has become a magnet for tourists, and not just tourists from Japan but tourists from overseas. The program looks at the rush to build new zoos and aquariums to accommodate new interest.

On Dec. 17 at 9 p.m., NHK's documentary series "Next" on BS-2 will present a program from Sweden about an elderly couple who try to revive their stale marriage by taking a trip overseas. They decide to go all the way to Buenos Aires to learn the tango, the most passionate and energetic of dances.

After their children grew up and left home, the couple has settled into a routine of silence and mutual resentment, since they live in the countryside and have little contact with anyone except each other. A film crew follows them every step of the way on their journey, and captures in closeup the changes they undergo not only in their relationship, but in their personal outlook on life. Of course, these changes are nothing compared to the shakeup they undergo when they learn how to dance in the city where the tango reached its fullest expression.

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