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Sunday, June 7, 2009


Hakuho's sumo origins, Yonemura's kitchen science, and Tamaki's acting transformation

Mongolians are dominating professional sumo even more decisively than the Hawaiians did back in the 1990s. It almost seems too easy the way they overpower their Japanese counterparts, and in almost all their cases the challenge has been more than just physical.

Yokozuna Hakuho is this week's main guest on the talk show "Jinsei ga Kawaru Ippun no Fukai-i Hanashi" ("Profoundly Satisfying Stories About a Life-changing Minute"; Nihon TV, Mon., 8:54 p.m.), where he talks openly about arriving in Japan when he was a small, skinny 15-year-old who suffered from acute homesickness. He was prepared to quit at almost any moment during his brutal training, but one incident completely turned him around and gave him the confidence to continue. A former stablemate corroborates this previously undisclosed story.

D enjiro Yonemura's professional title is Science Producer, which means he's made a tidy living as a TV personality who specializes in explaining scientific phenomena in an entertaining and enlightening way. This week he is the host of a two-hour special called "Denjiro no Daijikken" ("Denjiro's Big Experiments"; TV Tokyo, Tues., 7 p.m.).

Yonemura performs experiments for the purpose of explaining and analyzing common accidents that can happen in the home, and in doing so endeavors to show people how to avoid them.

For instance, many people still think they can make a hard-boiled egg by "heating" a raw egg in a microwave oven.

It's one of those common misconceptions that remain fixed in people's minds until they try it, and then discover that a microwaved egg explodes.

Yonemura also uses science to offer useful household tips.

He demonstrates a cooking method that allows daikon to absorb flavors more readily, and shows how you can chill beer in a matter of minutes.

T he solitary guest on this week's installment of NHK's interview show, "Top Runner" (NHK-G, Fri., 12:10 a.m.), is actor Hiroshi Tamaki, whose uniquely sonorous voice has made him the most sought-after male for television commercials for the past year or so.

In fact, it will be interesting to see how NHK, which as a public broadcaster adheres to a policy of avoiding anything that could be discerned as commercial promotion, will cover this aspect of Tamaki's career without showing or describing the many commercials he appears in.

Tamaki is in demand because he appeals to a wide range of viewers, and as an actor he has tended in the past to play either comic roles or romantic leads.

However, this summer he is starring in two movies where his image is radically different.

In one he plays a submarine commander, and in the other a heartless murderer.

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