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Sunday, June 5, 2011

CHANNEL SURF

Celebrity confessions; Japan's toilet culture; CM of the Week: Roots Aroma Black

Japanese celebrities have to put up with a lot in order to stay in show business, including opening their private lives to the public. This week on the variety show "Jinsei ga Kawaru Ippunkan Fuka-ii Hanashi" ("Deep and Good Stories About How Life Changed in a Minute"; Nihon TV, Mon., 9 p.m.), two teams of TV personalities — one whose members have been caught in marital infidelities and another whose members have not — tell their stories.

On the clean side there's makeup artist Ikko, who explains his method for guaranteeing that his partner will never stray. On the not-so-clean side there's former soccer player Nobuhiro Takeda, who reenacts his own method for picking up women.

NHK's documentary program "Begin Japanology" (BS-1; Fri., 2 p.m.), explains Japan to the world, and this week its enlightening topic is Japanese toilets.

Foreign visitors to Japan tend to be impressed by Japan's "toilet culture," which stresses cleanliness and functionality; not so much the traditional squat-style commodes, but rather the modern, tech-savvy models, which feature seats that warm up and nozzles that spray.

Host Peter Barakan explains the Japanese people's obsession with toilets through the "recycling ethos" of the city of Edo, which became Tokyo in the middle of the 19th century.

CM of the week: Roots Aroma Black

Except for the "Mona Lisa," Auguste Rodin's iconic sculpture "The Thinker" has been the subject of more tributes and parodies than any other work of art. The "thinker" in Japan Tobacco's new commercial for its Roots Aroma Black canned coffee series is actor Yutaka Takenouchi, who wanders aimlessly around his big, sunny room deep in meditation. Is he thinking about the meaning of life, a role he has to play in a movie, or perhaps how he can afford such a huge apartment?

No, he's thinking about how to draw a figure on his elbow that will mimic the drinking of a bottle-shaped can of Aroma Black when he himself raises the drink to his lips.

"Just as I thought," he mumbles as he stares at his handiwork in the mirror. "For thinkers," is the closing catch copy, though a more appropriate phrase might be, "For people who are easily bored."



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