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Sunday, May 3, 2009

Channel surf

The mission of "Tobidase! Kagaku-kun" ("Leap Out! Science Boy") (TBS, Mon. 11:30 p.m.) is to rekindle that sense of wonder about the world that everybody remembers from childhood. This "solution variety show," which premiered last month, attempts to explain nature in all its glory, from the mysteries of everyday life to riddles that have a global dimension.

This week, the program looks at insects, and is aimed at those people who find bugs disgusting. Comedian Naoki Tanaka, who calls himself a "friend of insects," takes another comedian, Takashi Imoto, who is not friend of insects at all, on an "insect- crazy" tour. They are aided by an "insect freak," who introduces the pair to his world. He shows them how to "love insects" and even how to raise and care for them.

A nother show that premiered last month, "Rubicon no Ketsudan" (The Rubicon Decision") (TV Tokyo, Thurs., 10 p.m.), sets up dramatic reenactments of decisions that had profound effects on society and history. Previous subjects included Barack Obama's decision to seek the presidency of the U.S. and the events that led to the fall of Lehman Brothers.

This week's true story is less earth-shaking. Some years ago, Tetsuya Goto, an inn owner in the modest hot-spring town of Kurokawa in Kumamoto Prefecture, came up with a plan to increase the number of guests. Goto was always considered an iconoclast by the town's other inn owners, who themselves were trying to come up with ideas to boost tourism. They mainly tried to copy the example of hot springs in other parts of Japan, which were turning their establishments into high-class resorts.

Goto's idea was to go in the opposite direction. He downsized his inn, made it simpler, more rural and traditional. The other inn owners laughed at him, until they realized he was actually getting more customers. So Goto approached them with a master plan: Turn the entire town of Kurokawa into one big, old-fashioned Japanese inn.

L ate-blooming comedian Edo Harumi visits her old elementary school on the Sunday morning series "Kagai Jugyo Yokoso Senpai" ("Outdoor Class Session, Welcome Upperclassman") (NHK-G, May 10, 8:25 a.m.). Edo grew up in Kamisu, Ibaraki Prefecture, and drops in on her alma mater to talk with students about having a dream and doing something about it.

Edo explains that she always wanted to be an actress, and describes how she went from one job to another, saving her money and using it to stage one-woman shows over the years. In her 30s, she attended a famous school for comedians where all the students were younger than she was.

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