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Sunday, Dec. 13, 2009


Tribute to mystery author Seicho Matsumoto; antique appraisal; and winter ghost stories

The hundredth anniversary of the birth of mystery author Seicho Matsumoto, who wrote the original story on which the current movie hit "Zero no Shoten" is based, continues to be celebrated on the small screen this week with a new version of his classic tale "Chuo Ryusa" (Central Quicksand; TBS, Mon., 9 p.m.).

Kurahashi (Ken Ishiguro), who works for an international development aid organization, has been living under a dark cloud ever since suspicions arose that he has taken bribes. After he goes to Kobe on a business trip, his wife, Setsuko (Yoka Wao), starts to worry because he doesn't call her. Then, when he doesn't return home on schedule, she panics because she can't reach him.

Several days later she receives news that her husband's dead body has been found in Guilin, China, along with the dead body of a woman. The local authorities judge it to be a double love suicide. Setsuko refuses to believe her husband was having an affair, and asks a reporter named Kawabe (Masahiro Takashima) to investigate.

K ONISHIKI, the Hawaiian-born former sumo ozeki (champion) who since leaving the sport has made a living by trying to lose weight, pays a visit to the antique appraisal show "Kaiun! Nandemo Kanteidan." (Good Fortune! Team That Appraises Anything; TV Tokyo, Tues., 8:54 p.m.) He wants the panel of experts to tell him the value of a basketball jersey that was given to him by superstar Michael Jordan. Since Jordan wore the uniform in actual games, he assumes it will fetch a big price.

The man who brings a giboshi for appraisal has no idea if it's worth anything. A giboshi is an ornament that sits on the post of a bridge, and this one happened to adorn Takebashi near the Imperial Palace in the Edo Period (1603-1867). The owner says he bought it cheaply at an antique market where the person who sold it to him revealed he'd picked it up at an army surplus sale.

G host stories tend to be a summer custom, but TV Tokyo thinks they're just as appropriate in the winter. The 2-hour special, "Nihon Retto Shinkan" (The Japanese Archipelago Shivers; Fri., 7 p.m.), embarks on a survey of the scariest regional ghost stories from all over the country, which are explained through interviews with local people and then dramatized. Afterward, a panel of celebrities chooses the scariest.

In addition, "true" ghost stories are presented through videos and photographs that have been submitted by viewers.

The producers also find some frightening images that have become hits on the Internet, and compare different regional versions of the "Toire no Hanako-san" legend, which is about the spirit of a little girl who haunts school restrooms.

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