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Sunday, Nov. 30, 2008
Tsurube and Nakai's travels, Detective Takemura, and a famous cross-dressing spy
It's impossible to turn on the television now without seeing SMAP leader Masahiro Nakai, who is working overtime to promote his new movie, "Watashi wa Kai ni Naritai" ("I Want to Become a Seashell"). And since he was just chosen for the fifth time to cohost NHK's New Year's Eve song contest, "Kohaku Utagassen," Nakai will be even more difficult to avoid on the box in the coming weeks.
This Monday and next Monday, he'll join rakugo storyteller Tsurube Shofukutei as they visit the homes of average people on NHK's travel series "Tsurube no Kazoku ni Kampai" ("Tsurube Toasts Families"; NHK-G, 8 p.m.). The two stars, who, in fact, once hosted "Kohaku Utagassen" together, will visit the coastal town of Kyonan in Chiba Prefecture. The premise of the show is that Tsurube and his guest just show up in town unannounced and start chatting to passersby.
Part One opens with Nakai and Tsurube meeting on the beach in Kyonan and getting into an argument that is interrupted by an elderly man who invites them to his house for a drink.
Peter Falk's enduring TV alter-ego, the seemingly simple-minded police detective Columbo, has always been a hit in Japan, as evidenced by the occasional mystery series "Shinano no Columbo Jiken File" ("Incident File of the Columbo of Shinano"; TV Tokyo, Wed., 9 p.m.). Shinano is another name for Nagano Prefecture, and "Columbo" is Detective Takemura (Senjaku Nakamura).
In the latest adventure, Takemura is called in to investigate the mysterious death of the editor of a local newspaper. The editor's body is found near the Minochi Dam, a project he vehemently opposed, and at first the local official whom he criticized is a suspect. However, several days later, the corpse of a woman is discovered in a temple on Ubasuta Mountain, where in the distant past local villagers would traditionally abandon their elderly parents to die. Takemura notices that the cause of death is the same as that in the Minochi Dam case, and he starts looking for connections.
Drama special "Danso no Reijin — Kawashima Yoshiko no Shogai" ("A Woman in Male Clothing — The Life of Yoshiko Kawashima"; TV Asahi, Sat., 9 p.m.) uses three actresses to portray one of the most infamous figures in 20th-century history.
Born in 1907 as a princess to the last Manchu imperial family, Jin Bihui fled to Japan after the Xinhai Revolution that deposed her father; she and was informally adopted by Naniwa Kawashima, a Japanese mercenary acquainted with her family.
As Yoshiko Kawashima, she worked as a spy for the Japanese in Manchuria before and after they set up a puppet government in the region. Considered a great beauty, Kawashima was famous for dressing in men's clothing.