Get Ready For TV Japan!
When I first landed here, dazed and jetlagged, wondering what on earth I was doing, my first introduction to Japanese culture was TV Japan. In this modern age, watching the television programs in another country (without subtitles!) is a guaranteed good time.
The first thing I noticed about Japanese TV is that most shows seem to have some educational aspect to them. There seem to be more nature, cooking and travel shows, whereas in the US, you would see those shows more on specialized channels on cable. Even comedy shows often have a small part where there are some interesting facts or some kind of education.
The most interesting shows to watch in Japan are the comedy/ variety shows. Japan has a lot of these shows, where a group of celebrities sit around and play various games, usually something like a game show. I guess you might say it’s a little like Hollywood Squares back home, only much more interesting. The variety of different games and things is amazing.
There are other shows that are a little like Jackass. The basic premise is that a bunch of comedians have to do something painful, stupid or degrading, and the result is always hilarious. You don’t have to understand Japanese to Âgget it!Âh In some of these shows, ordinary people from all over Japan have to run through obstacle courses where they have to run, jump, swim and dodge giant papier mache balls and things like that. It’s a little like watching real live Super Mario Brothers.
Of course, there is lots of anime on Japanese television. These shows are popular for both children and adults. Some are aimed at a younger audience, some an older audience. Even if you can’t follow the plot or understand the language, these shows are visually interesting.
When you’re channel surfing in Japan, you can’t avoid Smap. Smap is a boy band who are now too old to be called a boy band. Part of a boom of pre-fab boy bands that started in the late-80’s, Smap became quickly famous for their inability to sing. As it turned out, however, the members of Smap were all extremely talented in other areas, such as acting, comedy and dance. Since then, they have all gone on to star in movies and television dramas, and some have their own shows. I guarantee that at any given time, one of the five members of Smap is on TV doing something!
Recently, Korean dramas have become very popular in Japan. Dramas have always been popular on Japanese daytime television, but there has been a boom lately among Korean stars who are making their names known in Japan.
Finally, on almost every show, people eat. There is always food, eating, cooking or deep discussions about food, eating or cooking on Japanese television. It’s not a good idea to turn it on if you’re hungry!
Japanese TV is fascinating to watch. It is a good way to learn about the country, and also a wonderful way to learn and practice Japanese!