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Sunday, July 29, 2007

CHANNEL SURF

Tokyo and Osaka family, Ginza hostesses social climbing, shipwreck treasure hunting special

Tokyoites and Osakans like to believe that they not only differ in terms of local customs, but that they practically come from different planets. This idea is at the heart of the "Summer Drama Special: Long Wedding Road" (TBS, Monday, 9 p.m.).

Ryoko Hirosue stars as Shizuka, a young Osaka mother who divorced her husband five years earlier because he was violent. She now works for her uncle as a long-distance truck driver. During a ferry ride, she meets Shoichi (Masaru Nagai), a doctor from Tokyo, who is immediately smitten by the artless, slightly crude Shizuka because she looks exactly like his late wife, Sumika (in flashbacks, also played by Hirosue).

They embark on a long-distance romance and eventually decide to marry. Both bring children to the union who have trouble adjusting to their new circumstances, but the main point of friction in the couple's new married life is their clash of "cultures."

Royalty of any sort is always a big draw, and the popular summer drama series "Jotei (Empress)" (Asahi, Friday, 9 p.m.), which is based on a famous manga, looks at the kingdom of expensive hostess clubs in the Ginza section of Tokyo.

Sayaka (Rosa Kato) is a newbie at Aman, one of the district's most expensive watering holes for big men with big money. She is quickly indoctrinated into a world where hostesses fight for top customers using any means necessary. Sayaka is, of course, determined to someday be the No. 1 hostess in Ginza, and she gets a head start when a famous novelist shows an interest in her. Aman's Number One hostess Kaoru is, of course, furious, because he's the club's biggest customer.

In episode 4, which airs this week, Aman's "mama-san" (owner), Hiromi, brings Sayaka to meet the owner of Club Suwa (Rino Katase), who is currently the Empress of Ginza. Sayaka is impressed.

In March of 1874, a French freighter that was carrying valuable artifacts ran into a storm off the coast of the Izu Peninsula and sank with 90 crew members aboard. The artifacts had been exhibited in the Japan pavilion at the Vienna Exposition, and were on their way home. They included some of the country's most valuable works of art and craft, including the sword of the hero Miyamoto Yoritomo.

Several years ago a marine archaeologist named Nobusuke Araki assembled a team to explore the sea bed where the ship is believed to have sunk. On Sunday, Aug. 5 at 4:05 p.m., Fuji TV will present a special program, "Meiji Seifu no Isan (Legacy of the Meiji Government)," that reports on the progress of the project as it happens.



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