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Sunday, Jan. 20, 2008

CHANNEL SURF

Showa nostalgia documentary, baseball star interviewed, optical illusions

The Showa boom has yet to run its course. Appropriating the street address used in the title of the hit Showa Period movie series "Always: Sanchome no Yuhi," TV Tokyo pumps up the nostalgia on "Sanchome no Post: Natsukashii Rankingu SP (Sanchome Mailbox: Nostalgic Rankings Special)" (Monday, 7 p.m.). The mailbox of the title is one of those stumpy red jobs that look more like fire hydrants. The various celebrity guests take letters from the mailbox that were written during the Showa Period (1926-89) and discuss how life has changed or hasn't changed. Some of the letters were written by famous people of that time. Former Indonesian first lady and Japanese TV celebrity Dewi Sukarno reads a thank you letter that was written to her 40 years ago. In addition, the results of a survey are examined. The show's producers interviewed hundreds of people on the street about the most significant events and "items" of the Showa Period, which have been compiled into a list of 100 ranked in order of popularity.

Major League Baseball star Ichiro Suzuki is not known for being voluble, especially when it comes to his private life. However, on Jan. 2, NHK broadcast an exclusive interview in which the Seattle Mariner outfielder invited cameras into his huge Seattle home and introduced viewers to his wife and his dog. During the program, Ichiro talked mostly about baseball and the pressure he feels to perform. He admitted to not standing up very well under pressure, which is why he tends to avoid the subject during the season; but that this last year he made up his mind to accept the pressure as a "challenge." This week, on "Professional Shigoto no Ryugi (Professional Work Style)" (NHK-G, Tuesday, 10 p.m.), NHK will broadcast the portions of the interview it didn't include in the previous program. In these conversations, Ichiro talks more about his private life and his thoughts on general topics, including love and keeping secrets.

Japan is famous for its natural scenery, but does everyone see the same thing when they look at a particular mountain or stretch of coastline? This question is explored on "Nani Kore: Chin-hakkei (What Is That? One Hundred Unique Sights)" (TV Asahi, Wednesday, 11:15 p.m.), which is hosted by the comedy trio Neptune. The phenomena discussed are not optical illusions, where tricks are played on the eyes, but rather the way one's imagination alters the way one "sees" something. Different guests are presented with the same view and asked to describe what they see. In many cases, their mind does play tricks on them, and they describe to the viewer how they "see" a particular image. If they are successful, then the viewer "sees" it, too.



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