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Sunday, Sept. 9, 2001


For your regular viewing pleasure

Those who believe young people don't have proper peer models should check out TBS's "Sekai Ururun Taizai (World Sojourn)," which, every Sunday at 10 p.m., features a young celebrity traveling to a distant corner of the globe and living with a local family while learning a local skill or craft.

In extreme cases, the sojourners stay with isolated tribes in places such as New Guinea or the Amazon and hunt and fish alongside their hosts. In most cases, however, the guests want to learn something specific, such as how to play flamenco guitar in Spain, or how to make a frock coat in Britain. In addition to learning a skill, the traveler becomes immersed in the day-to-day life of the place where he or she is staying, and invariably becomes almost like a member of the host family.

Tonight, actress Amari Matsumoto goes to the Dalmatian Coast of Croatia, where she lives with a fisherman's family and learns how to cook eel the Dalmatian way. Before departing, Matsumoto spent one week apprenticing at a Japanese unagi restaurant in Tokyo, learning how to gut and prepare eel the Japanese way.

Dalmatian eel dishes turn out to be quite different. In Croatia, eel are skewered lengthwise on long sticks, or they are cut up and cooked with vegetables in a kind of risotto. Matsumoto learns these methods, and also how to cook another local delicacy, frog (which she later prepares for the studio guests who comment on her tour and answer the requisite quiz questions).

But what makes this particular installment special is Matsumoto's impact on the local people. Usually, the influence goes one way. But the young actress brings specialized Japanese eel-preparing utensils as well as the fine charcoal used for cooking unagi. The locals are very impressed with the grilled eel that Matsumoto prepares, and the Croatian cooks are especially intrigued by her preparation methods.

At the opposite end of the eating process, this week's installment of TV Tokyo's health variety show, "Kaiketsu, Kusuri ni Naru TV (Solved! TV That's Medicine)" (tomorrow at 7 p.m.) takes a look at constipation. As many Japanese believe the myth that their intestines are 60 cm longer than other people's, this may or may not have something to do with the fact that 70 percent of Japanese women complain they frequently experience irregularity. In any case, the Japanese laxative industry will never suffer.

Several celebrity women will be on hand to relate their own personal constipation experiences. Talent Emiri Henmi describes how to overcome irregularity and lose weight at the same time. Mi, who used to be half of the idol duo Pink Lady, will describe her "20 years of agony" and how she is now "cured." Former tennis star Naoko Saito will introduce some "equipment" that is especially useful for combating constipation. And comedian Kuniko Yamada will explain how lack of exercise causes irregularity.

In addition, the program will visit a town in Kagoshima Prefecture that has never had a recorded case of constipation in its history. Must be the water.

Though some companies are phasing out the custom as they restructure, the Japanese concept of shataku, or employee housing, remains a fixture of corporate life here. This week's "Kin'yo Entertainment" (Fuji TV; Friday, 9 p.m.) will present a two-hour mystery drama that takes place in a shataku.

Ikuko (Ekue Sakakibara) and the other wives who live in the same company housing complex often get together to complain about their crummy apartments and the less-than-standard living conditions, especially when a bright, shiny new housing development is built nearby. Add to this circle Akimitsu, a house-husband whose working wife has been transferred to the same company residence.

After Ikuko is elected chief of the upcoming shataku festival, she makes up the invitations and takes them to the company personnel manager . . . and at his apartment discovers the dead body of his wife.

Sept. 15 is Respect for the Aged Day, and NHK-G will broadcast two specials commemorating the holiday on Saturday. The first, starting at 7:30 p.m., will look at how the rapid aging of Japanese society will soon make Respect for the Aged Day a pointless commemoration, since the majority of the population will be elderly. In addition, the concept of "elderly," which is equated with bedridden seniors and people with nothing to do, is changing.

There are now 15,000 Japanese citizens, as well as 100,000 people throughout the world, who are over the age of 100. NHK's reporters will seek out those places that contain a disproportionate number of centenarians and try to find out the secret of their longevity.

Then, at 9 p.m., there will be a special titled "Retirees Fight Back" that will look at 29 Japanese entrepreneurs who started their businesses after turning 50. With restructuring on the rise and an increasing number of company employees taking (or being forced to take) early retirement, many are looking for ways to channel their experience and wisdom into new businesses.

One 62-year-old retired rocket engineer established a new company that offers information to anglers about the best fishing in Japan. So far, the company's Web site has received more than 50 million yen in advertising revenues from fishing-related companies.

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