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Sunday, Aug. 31, 2008

Channel surf

The premise of the variety special "Sugoi! Nihonjin" (Amazing! Japanese; TV Tokyo, Mon., 8 p.m.) is finding Japanese people who not only live and work overseas but have made big impressions in their adopted homes.

The program travels to France, Poland, India, Mexico and other countries. There, the reporters ask natives if they know of any Japanese people living in their countries and then rank the names of the top five answers. In France, the name most often cited is that of a painter who was recognized as a major artist even by Picasso, and whose works are collected by royalty the world over. Farther down the list is a Japanese woman whose complexion is reportedly the envy of all French women.

The most famous Japanese expatriate in India is a man who made arid tracts of land bloom, and in Mexico, it's an actor who appeared in a number of hit Mexican movies and even a few in Hollywood.

B eat Takeshi's medical variety series "Takeshi no Honto wa Kowai Katei no Igaku" (Takeshi's Really Scary Home Medicine; TV Asahi, Tues., 7:03 p.m.) leaves the studio for a special two-hour tour of Kagoshima Prefecture, where the comedian-director, accompanied by a team of TV personalities, does some research into the issue of metabolic syndrome.

As often happens in on-site variety shows, the visitors sample the local food, though in this case they want to find out if Kagoshima's famous wares, in particular "black pork," contribute to the excess-body-fat problem that has become a media obsession. Takeshi walks through a shopping arcade and waylays passersby who look as if they suffer from metabolic syndrome. He then interrogates them on their diets and eating habits.

T V Asahi is celebrating its 50th anniversary with a special two-part mystery called "Kori no Hana" (Ice Flower; Sept. 6 and 7, 9:03 p.m.), which is based on the best selling novel by Setsuko Amano. The author was in her late 50s when she self-published the book, which was her first novel. It became a big hit and has since been reprinted by a major publishing house.

In the story, Kyoko (Ryoko Yonekura) is a pianist who seems to live a charmed life. Her mother died when she was a child, and she was raised by her rich uncle in relative luxury. She marries a surgeon, Takayuki (Masato Sakai), who works in her uncle's hospital. When the uncle is injured in a hit-and-run accident, however, Takayuki cannot save him. Kyoko inherits everything.

Six months later, Kyoko receives a mysterious telephone call from a woman who says that she is pregnant with Takayuki's child. Kyoko is shocked for more than one reason. She and Takayuki had been trying to have a child of their own, but without any success.

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