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Sunday, Jan. 6, 2008


Rock climbing rehabilitation, celebrity life stories, taking care of parents

Yasushi Yamanoi is one of Japan's most famous rock climbers. In 1994 he made it to the top of a Himalayan peak that stands 8,201 meters above sea level. He did it alone and without oxygen.

In 2002, Yamanoi, who is now 42, and his wife Taeko, who is 51, climbed a different Himalayan mountain, and on their way down were buried under a powerful avalanche. By some sort of miracle they survived, but Yamanoi lost portions of 10 fingers and toes to frostbite while his wife lost 18.

This remarkable pair is profiled on "Fufu ga Idonda Byakuya no Daiganpeki (The Couple Who Took On the Big Rock Wall in the White Night)" (NHK-G, Monday, 10 p.m.), a documentary that follows their rehabilitation and training regimen five years after that almost fatal accident.

Last summer, the two attempted their first major rock climbing expedition since 2002, a sheer rock face on Greenland that towers 1,300 meters above sea level.

Celebrities of all shapes and sizes get to relate the most affecting moments of their lives on the variety special "Jinsei ga Kawaru — Ippunkan no Fuka-ii Hanashi (Life Changes — One Minute Stories That Are Deep and Interesting)" (Nihon TV, Tuesday, 10 p.m.). Hosted by comedian Shinsuke Shimada, the program aims to offer viewers "advice for living" through anecdotal examples.

Of course, one-minute stories are not enough to fill up an entire program, so the producers went farther afield to look at an apple orchard in Aomori Prefecture that was practically destroyed by a typhoon, but which made a comeback in a big way. Also discussed are "rational" diet methodologies and a simple letter containing only three words that boosted the flagging spirits of an entire scientific mission to Antarctica. Even Mark Twain is mined for inspirational gold.

More inspirational stuff for the new year is provided by famous people on "Yumeijin Sozetsu Kaigo Nikki (Celebrities' Wonderful Caregiving Diaries)" (TBS, Wednesday, 6:55 p.m.), in which well-known guests talk about their personal lives with respect to taking care of parents and other family members with chronic ailments and terminal diseases. Almost all of the guests, in fact, wrote books about their caregiving experiences.

Veteran journalist Soichiro Tahara explains how he took care of his wife before she died of cancer several years ago. A former female idol singer discusses how she quit performing to take care of her mother-in-law for 20 years.

The mother of a very famous singer is interviewed and talks about how her son has sacrificed his career to make sure she is comfortable. The program's host is former idol singer Hirohide Yakushimaru, who solicits comments about these cases from three professional caregiving experts.

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