Thursday, December 31, 2009

Japanese TV Programs to Watch Around New Years

If you are not in the mood for braving the cold and the crazy crowds on the night of the 31st you might want to check out these TV programs on the New Year’s Eve night as well as the following day/morning.

image If you haven’t watched it before, 紅白歌合戦(Kouhaku Uta Gassen), is a singing competition on the national public television (NHK)  and it is broadcast both on television and radio. It has actually been on the air since 1950s. It is basically a singing competition between two teams – red team which is made up of female singers and the white team which is made up of male singers. In fact the beginning of the name of the program, 紅白, stands for red-white.  To be invited to sing at the competition is considered an honor and the teams are typically made up of singers of all backgrounds from J-Pop to Enka (the traditional Japanese folk songs). Every year NHK puts together a selection committee which does the refereeing and the invitation process for the artists is based on sales in the last year as well as their fit to the theme for that year. The theme is in turn determined by a survey on various demographics so you can see that it is a pretty big deal. This year 紅白 will start on New Year’s Eve at 7:15pm and go on until 11:45pm on BShi, BS2 and Radio 1. You can take a look at the homepage here.

image Another show I really like watching is さすけ/佐助(Sasuke). さすけ is the name of a famous Ninja from Japanese history and the show is about competitors trying to survive a gauntlet of challenges. This one you might have seen in other countries under a different name (for example in the US and Turkey they show it under the name Ninja Warrior). However, unlike the way they show it in other  countries, which is as a season of 30 minute long episodes, the way they show it here is as one long episode per season. There is a pretty dedicated fan base here as far as I can tell and there is even a museum in Odaiba called Muscle-Park where people can try some of the challenges from the show. Some of the competitors prepare for months, building smaller versions of the gauntlet at their homes. The 24th iteration of the show will take place on January  1st at 5:45 pm and last until 11:24 (no idea why not 11:30 or 11:15) on TBS.  You can find more information here and especially here.

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