In any look at Japanese culture a reoccurring theme is Japanese TV. Call it corny, crazy or just bizzare but which ever way you cut it, its interesting and can be a damn fine way to spend some quality veg out time. The very concept of a celebrity is taken to a new dimension in Japan, where people are famous for simply being umm … famous! In the west celebrities have a day job for which they become famous… ie actor, singer, comedian, young people in Japan however seem to skip the means and grow up aspiring to become simply “a celebrity”.
Japanese TV is very entertaining, one of my long time favourites has been Fuji TV’s ‘Fountain of Trivia‘ (トリビアの泉）a great show, since copied for the US market, where the hosts present to the panel a series of sometimes quite amazing trivial facts. The key is in the presentation of course, and you have to watch the full analysis for the effect, but sometimes there are some gems like “The last meal of the last emperor of China before he died was … Chicken Ramen”, “The first ever Tour de France winner, cheated in the race the following year by getting on a train”, and “If you shoot a Magnum .44 (the most powerful handgun in the world) at Japanese samurai sword head on, the bullet will split in two”. All true.
Another fun one is watching out for western celebrity sell outs a la that great movie, Lost in Translation; Silvester Stallone selling Nippon Ham, Brad Pit and his Edwin Jeans, Bruce Willis for Eneos Service Stations, the list goes on with the best being maintained over on Japander.com.
For those of us living out of country YouTube provides a great way to browse through some classic Japanese TV, that was of course until a couple of weeks ago when YouTube deleted 29,549 videos. “A total of 29,549 videos were deleted from video streaming site YouTube following a request from copyright-related rights organizations, NHK and other broadcasters, the Japanese Society for Rights of Authors, Composers and Publishers (JASRAC) said. The collective request to delete the videos was made by 23 businesses and organizations. Parties included public broadcaster NHK and private television stations.” There are still a lot of great Japanese TV clips on YouTube but the crack down has officially begun.
Why Japanese broadcasters feel threatened by a lot of 5 minute long TV clips being posted on the internet is little questionable, surely these little snippets are a great way to wet the appetite and make you want to watch more. And for the vast majority of the planet who don’t speak Japanese what’s the harm in sharing a bit of civilized, Japanese ‘TV’ culture with them?