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Sunday, June 28, 2009


Strong-spirited women, brain-body challenges and winter 'eco' action

The quiz show "Wafu Sohonke" ("Total Main House for Japanese Style"; TV Tokyo, Mon., 8 p.m.) tests celebrity contestants' knowledge of Japanese customs and traditions, many of which are arcane. On this week's two-hour special, they narrow the focus to customs and traditions having to do with Japanese women, in particular takumashii (strong in both spirit and body) women.

The special follows women over the course of a single day. One of the subjects is a Buddhist nun, who has decided to cut all ties to the material world. She is shown waking up before dawn and taking part in ascetic religious training. There is also a profile of a 77-year-old woman who sells fish door-to- door from a cart that she pulls through the streets by herself, as well as a day in the life of a woman who runs a boarding house for students, and a look at the workaday world of a "charisma midwife."

"Takumashii" of a peculiarly male sort is presented for your entertainment on "Sekiguchi Hiroshi's Tokyo Friend Park II" (TBS, Thurs., 7:55 p.m.), the game show that pits two teams of celebrities against each other in a competition to win prizes for themselves and members of the audience. This week, two pairs of popular sumo rikishi will go head-to-head . . . or belly-to-belly, if you prefer: Hakuho, Aminishiki, Toyonoshima and crowd favorite Takamisakari.

The various contests are designed to challenge "the brain as well as the body." In the famous Flash Zaurus game, the wrestlers have to demonstrate their crack timing by jumping directly onto a moving light as it passes under them. However, the most interesting quiz will be the one in which one team member has to answer questions related to a topic he is supposedly an expert in while the other member pedals a stationary bicycle for points. Hakuho's field is children's animation, Takamisakari's is onsens, Aminishiki's comedians, and Toyonoshima's soccer players.

No variety show has done more to promote "eco" in action than "The Tetsuwan Dash" ("The Iron Arm Dash"; Nihon TV, July 5, 7 p.m.), with boy band TOKIO.

Though winter is still months away, preparations for the cold are being made at the group's totally self-sufficient Dash Village. Wool clothing will be needed so they decide to buy and raise two sheep. They also "mobilize" a new team of ducks for their rice field to eat insects and weeds. In addition, members Shigeru Joshima and Tatsuya Yamaguchi compete against each other in a scooter race that starts at the base of Mount Fuji and ends at the sea. The scooters are special energy-saving models that generate their own electricity, but the trick is to go downhill more than you go uphill.

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