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Sunday, Nov. 29, 2009


Documenting blind pianist Tsujii, an industry whistle-blower and professional matchmakers

Since winning the Grand Prix at the last Van Cliburn Piano Competition, 20-year-old Nobuyuki Tsujii has become world famous, though he was already a star in his native Japan. Blind since birth, Tsujii automatically drew attention as a piano prodigy, which is why his life has been well-documented up until now.

"Hodohatsu Documentary Sengen" (News Dispatch Documentary Declaration; TV Asahi, Mon., 7 p.m.) edits together available footage from the last 11 years of Tsujii's life. The documentary chronicles his growth as an artist, but it mainly shows the close relationship he has with his mother, who says that when she first learned her son would be blind for life, she cursed God.

Then, one Christmas day, she heard "Jingle Bells" coming from the children's room in her house and opened the door to find 2-year-old Nobuyuki playing the song on a toy piano with both hands. Her life hasn't been the same since.

Being a whistle blower isn't easy anywhere, but in Japan, which puts a premium on group stability, it's almost unheard of. The story of Kiroku Akabane, the man who alerted the authorities to the mislabeling of ground beef products at his company, Meat Hope, in 2007, risked more than just his job, as shown in the docudrama "Tatta Hitori no Henran" (The Rebellion of a Single Person; NHK-G, Tues., 10 p.m.).

Using interviews with Akabane and dramatic recreations, the program explains what became the first in a series of labeling scandals that rocked the food industry. Akabane revealed that Meat Hope was mixing bread crumbs and even rotten meat into its ground beef products, and did so without hiding his own identity. As a result, the president of the company went to prison, and is still there.

Akabane paid, too. He faced stiff opposition from his colleagues and the food industry in general. What's more, his family was dragged through the dirt.

Love and happiness are the twin themes on this week's edition of the talk show "Echika no Kagami: Kokoro ni Kiku TV" (Ethica's Mirror: TV That Listens to the Heart; Fuji, Dec. 6, 9 p.m.), hosted by veteran emcee Tamori.

The main guests are the Otsukis, a couple who make their living as professional matchmakers. The Otsukis have been bringing people together for 40 years, and are responsible for 310 marriages. What's amazing about this number is that all these couples are still married and happy. What is their secret?

Also on the show is a successful "romance counselor" who tips the scales at 103 kg. Yuzuru Hanabayashi has been on the show before and was so popular that she returns to give more advice to lovelorn women. A camera follows her to one of her appointments.

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