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Sunday, May 13, 2007

Celebrity gravel show, restaurant eating-out game show and the lasts days of a dying director

Kiyotaka Nanbara, half of the comedy duo Utchan- Nanchan, is this week's guest on the travel show "Tsurube no Kazoku ni Kampai (Tsurube Toasts Families)" (NHK-G, Mon., 8 p.m.). In this second installment of a special two-part visit to Toshijima, an island off the coast of Mie Prefecture, rakugo storyteller Shofuku Tsurube and his guest drop into a rural community and strike up conversations with people they meet on the street. They then encourage these people to take them home and introduce them to their families. This aspect takes on special meaning on Toshijima, which is home to a unique custom called neyako, which translates as "sleep-over children." After boys on the island graduate from junior high school, they sleep in the homes of "second families" until they marry, though they still take meals with their real families. In this way, the island's sense of community is extended, since every boy has two sets of family members. Nanbara strikes up a conversation with one young man, who introduces him to his two extended families.

Sometimes a segment of a variety show is more famous than the show itself. On "Guruguru 99 (99 Round and Round)" (Nihon TV, Fri., 7 p.m.), hosted by the comedy group 99, there is a very popular game segment called "Gochi ni Narimasu," in which that week's guest and the show's crew of regulars go to a very expensive restaurant. The group is given menus with no prices, and each person must select dishes that will add up to a target amount of money. The person whose total comes closest is the winner, and the person whose total is the farthest away must pay for everyone else's meals. This week's guest is former idol singer Hiromi Go, who on a previous show came in last and had to cover the enormous tab. He's out for revenge, but this time the stakes are higher. There are six people dining at an expensive Italian restaurant in Mishima, Shizuoka Prefecture, and the limit is 50,000 yen per person.

In February 2005, noted film director Kihachi Okamoto died of cancer. This week's "Premium 10" (NHK-G, Fri., 10 p.m.) recreates the master's last 300 days. After the terminal diagnosis, Okamoto and his wife Mineko, who was also his producer, decided he would die at home rather than in a hospital. Mineko took care of him herself, which was difficult in more ways than the obvious ones. Because of their work, the couple had always been surrounded by others, and, in fact, had never spent any appreciable length of time in each other's company alone. The program uses dramatization and interviews with Mineko to tell the story of their final days together.



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