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This is a past article published in Hiragana Times. Each Japanese paragraph is followed by its English translation or vise versa, and furigana are placed above each kanji to make Japanese study even easier. [Magazine Sample] [Subscription Page]

Popular TV Programs Allow Foreigners to See Their Countries Through Japanese Eyes and Vice Versa

[From March Issue 2015]

201503-1

Chihara Brothers in “Far Away Neighbours”

Broadcasting a variety of programs 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, in Japan there are numerous TV stations and this includes one public channel, five major private TV channels, local stations, BS, and CS. Among the programs broadcast, there are many that feature foreign countries and non-Japanese people. Those introducing the lives of Japanese living overseas and the lives of non-Japanese in Japan are popular.

In “Far Away Neighbours” celebrities drop in on Japanese living in places rarely visited by ordinary Japanese citizens. This series, broadcast on the TV Asahi channel and its network, is mainly hosted by the Chihara Brothers comic double act. The appeal of this program as a documentary is its portrayal of visiting celebrities grappling with riding small busses and trying to make the right connections in order to reach their destination, as well as the way it introduces the real lives of local people.

Since many of the people visited are the only Japanese in the area, they cannot rely on the embassy or local Japanese communities and have had to solve problems on their own. In most cases, being far from Japan means that life can be rather inconvenient. The ups and downs of their lives up until the present day and their courage in overcoming these difficulties are highlighted in the show.

Broadcast by the TBS network, “The World’s Japa-zuma” is a program that features the lives of Japanese women who have married non-Japanese men and are living overseas. When it’s revealed how these woman came to move overseas for marriage, the footage is discussed in the studio by celebrities and non-Japanese women living in Japan. The hosts are the comic duo Bakusho Mondai.

One of the highlights of the program is in its detailed portrayal of the individual lives of these women, the difficulties they face in foreign countries and the cultural differences between them and their husbands. For instance, a woman who moved to New Zealand won sympathy of viewers because of the way she took care of her children while running a ranch with her husband. Her practically self-sufficient lifestyle stirred up feelings of curiosity and admiration in viewers.

“Why did you come to Japan?” is broadcast by the TV Tokyo network. To discover why people come to Japan, foreigners are interviewed at Narita International Airport. Sometimes, their special skills are introduced, as in the case of people who came to Japan to participate in a karate event. The individual responses of people coming from overseas and the variety of reasons for coming to Japan stir up the viewer’s interest.

In some cases, the coverage of people interviewed at the airport continues. A couple of Danish men appeared numerous times in the program because of their unique style of traveling which involved choosing a destination by blindfolding themselves and pointing at random to an open guidebook. The show is surprising to viewers because foreigners want to visit unusual places or even places Japanese people don’t know about. The witty commentary by the show’s hosts, comic due Bananaman, is also popular.

Text: SAZAKI Ryo


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