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Sunday, Oct. 11, 2009


Looking at the origin of bird's nest soup, the dearth of OB-GYNs and Yamazaki's 'Fumo Chitai'

Have you ever wondered about the origins of the things that surround you in your everyday life? Where did they come from and how did they get here? Those questions are answered on the new variety show "Za Gyakuryu Risaachaazu" (The Reverse-Flow Researchers; TV Tokyo, Mon., 8 p.m.).

The main topic of the two-hour special premiere is something that you probably don't have in your everyday life: bird's nest soup. It's an expensive dish in Chinese restaurants, but what exactly is it? Well, for one thing it's made from the nests of swallows.

The show's reporter interviews a top chef who explains the secret to bird's nest soup as well as to the import agent who sells him the ingredients. From there, the reporter follows the trail back to Thailand, where the nests are procured.

The show also looks into the cultivation of hops, the plant that provides the flavoring for beer. "Gine" is the term Japanese doctors use among themselves to refer to gynecologist-obstetricians, who, as everyone knows, are in dangerous short supply these days. "Gine" is also the title of a new Nihon TV drama series (Wed., 10 p.m.) starring Norika Fujiwara as an overworked obstetrician named Nachi.

Dr. Nachi is under pressure all the time, though the harsh reality of her work doesn't necessarily explain her aloof demeanor. She doesn't let any of her colleagues get close to her, and seems only interested in her work, which she approaches with a dedication bordering on obsession. Tamaki (Yusuke Kamiji), an intern who has been assigned to Dr. Nachi, doesn't know what to do because she mostly acts as if he isn't there.

In the first episode, Dr. Nachi examines a pregnant woman and determines that she must have a Caesarian section immediately in order to save the life of her child, but the husband says something that draws an unusually emotional response from the obstetrician. Toyo Yamazaki's classic novel "Fumo Chitai" (A Barren Area) has been made into movies and TV shows, and it has been turned into a new series to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Fuji Television (Thurs., 9 p.m.).

Tadashi Iki (Toshiyuki Karasawa) is captured by the Soviet Army in the final days of World War II and sentenced to hard labor in a Siberian prison camp. After eleven years he is released and returns home to Osaka, where his wife, Yoshiko (Emi Wakui), has been raising their two children by herself. He takes time to reacquaint himself with her and his children before taking up offer from the president of a trading company who wants him to join his sales staff.

Iki becomes one of the "corporate warriors" who help Japan emerge from the ruins to become a world economic power.

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