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Sunday, Aug. 8, 2010


A painter who embraced life; soldiers back from the dead; CM of the week: Iris Ohyama

In February of 2009, painter Kenji Yoshida died at the age of 84 in Paris. Yoshida was better known in Europe than he was in his native country of Japan, a situation the NHK special "Inochi: Koko no Gaka" ("Life: A Solitary Painter"; NHK-G, Mon., 10 p.m.) may help to correct.

All of Yoshida's work has one source: the Imperial Navy base where he trained to be a tokkotai (kamikaze pilot) at the age of 20 at the end of World War II. For months he "lived next door to death," but the war ended before he was given a mission.

When he took up painting, he worked only in monochrome, as a eulogy to fallen comrades. At the age of 40, he moved to Paris and never returned. There, he "embraced life," and all his paintings thereafter had the same title, "La vie." Eventually, he also embraced color, especially gold leaf. In Europe, his work represents "world peace and prayer."

The program sorts through his letters and diary entries, and interviews some of the men he served with during the war.

The souls of soldiers who were told to "fight to the death" and were then killed in battle during the Pacific War return home in "Kikoku" ("Repatriation"; TBS, Sat., 9 p.m.), a special drama presentation written by Satoshi Kuramoto.

In this fantasy, the spirits of dead soldiers and sailors arrive at Tokyo Station on a special train. Sgt. Akiyoshi (Tsuyoshi Nagabuchi) tells his men, who have been adrift on the ocean for more than 60 years, that Japan has rebuilt itself after its devastating defeat. Their mission is to go back to their hometowns and recharge their memories with one last visit, but they must return by dawn. The all-star cast includes Beat Takeshi, Jun Ogura and Arata.

CM of the week

Iris Ohyama: Enka singer Sachiko Kobayashi is famous for one thing: the elaborate costumes she wears for NHK's New Year's Eve Red-White Song Contest. Over the years these getups have become more and more complicated, and are even decked out with lights and mechanical parts.

It has gotten to the point where the outfits are no longer costumes but full-scale stage sets. In the last contest, the dress was a giant replica of Kobayashi herself.

What does she do with these costumes (which cost millions) after she uses them for only three minutes? Well, she uses one in the new ad for household-goods maker Iris Ohyama.

As the singer ascends by elevator to the stage, the announcer says that Sachiko Kobayashi, "Who uses a lot of light bulbs," has an announcement. Kobayashi is carrying a giant replica of Iris' LED Ecolux light bulb. She has "bright news," she says. These LED bulbs will cut your electricity by 90 percent. "That's why I'm Ecobayashi."

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