America is going through a golden age of television programming. Japan? Not so much… According to a recent survey by the Asahi newspaper, nearly 75 percent of those surveyed noted that they thought Japanese TV is boring. Many programs are just people eating food and shouting, “Umai!!!” (delicious).
But there are a few babies in the bathwater that is Japanese television programming.
*Note: These shows require a fairly high level of Japanese proficiency to really understand but are useful for study.
Tantei Knight Scoop is a long-running television program, in which viewers write in requests to the show. These requests are generally problems the viewers face and want help from the show hosts. These requests vary from very sincere things, like helping a grandfather reunite with an old friend, to strange things, a woman who has fallen in love with a shop mannequin and wants help getting married to it. Every episode is different, some are hilariously funny, some heartwarming, scary, or enlightening.
Despite the name, this is not a newscast. It is a show that exhibits reenactments of true stories throughout the world. Like Tantei Knight Scoop, each episode is very different, and you will never know what you are going to get. But the stories are always interesting and well told. There are some intermissions, where the hosts and guests talk and tell jokes. This is the weakest part of the show and can be skipped, but the stories are not to be missed.
One of the shows that are somewhat well-known outside of Japan for being pure crazy! This show is a New Year’s Eve tradition. Each year a team of famous Japanese comedians are put through a several-hour long crucible where the single rule is that they cannot laugh if they do they are slapped in the butt. This is made impossible due to the fact that dozens of the other top comics in Japan all compete to make them laugh.
To be sure there are a lot of Japanese shows that are about as interesting as watching grass grow in Alaska, but hidden in the dross are several great gems. Check out as much as you can and try to find more.