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I Survived a Japanese Game Show

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    yippee

    Last night a summer season replacement show called “I Survived a Japanese Game Show” aired on syndicated television. It featured Americans who thought they were filming a reality show, who were flown to Japan, then marched up to a sound stage at TOHO!!!!!

    I saw the “Seven Samurai” mural that featured in a post elsewhere on this site, and the saga of Jeremy’s attempt to locate the studios when he was in Tokyo. Oh, man, I dunno-it’s just all so whack that all these things are happening at the same time-my discovery of this site, the conversations about Kurosawa, reading the TOHO posts, thinking about Japanese culture.

    Here’s what I think will happen: I think that Americans will get a chance to see Japanese people (even in this ridiculous context) as real. And, that’s going to be amazing! American culture is so insular, so uninterested in anything outside our borders, so oblivious to the world, that this is a good thing, as silly as it may initially seem.

    And, anyway, since the death of the U.S. Hegemony in the world, we need to learn about the rest of the people on this planet! So, yay for that. I hope that the Americans are able to make some friends with Japanese and that we learn about these friendships.

    Who knows? People may actually become interested in learning about the golden age of Japanese cinema! They may discover Ozu, Mizoguchi, Kobayashi, Inagaki, Naruse, Kurosawa! Oh, a funny thing happened last night. After work, I went to the restaurant across the street that has dragged out some tables and chairs and made a little streetside cafe area. How nice. So, I sat down and ordered a glass of wine before heading to the gym (probably not the brightest idea, but there you have it) and read some passages from “Akira Kurosawa Interviews” which was noted by my server, and we started a long conversation on Japanese cinema. You just never know where fans are lurking!

    Finally, it would be nice to have a space to discuss Japanese literature…or is that outside the scope of this site? I’ve read a fair amount of Kawabata, and am beginning on Mishima. Any recommendations or comments?

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    Vili Maunula

    Finally, it would be nice to have a space to discuss Japanese literature…or is that outside the scope of this site?

    Nothing’s outside of the scope of this site (although I do keep the right to moderate discussions), so go ahead. ­čÖé

    Some ten years ago, when in Japan, I went through the basic Japanese historical canon plus selected bits of some contemporary writers like Haruki Murakami and the (somewhat less contemporary) children’s author Kenji Miyazawa. And of course some Osamu Dazai and Abe Kobo, as you do. Apart from those, I can’t really say much about Japanese literature, and I can’t even remember much of the ones that I read.

    However, I think that the one that stood out the most for me was a book called The Showa Anthology. It is a collection of short stories from the Showa period (1926-1989).

    I actually just dug up my copy from the bookshelf. During my stay in Japan, this book survived thousands of kilometres of travel, as well as being used as a pillow, and one moderately fierce typhoon. It does look like it, too.

    Glancing through the titles, I recognize some of them, and have no recollection of some others. But I remember that it gave me a fairly good overview of the Showa period life in Japan (although perhaps more in terms of its various moods than actual historical reality). Might be worth picking up, if you can find it somewhere.

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    Jeremy

    Recalling my failed attempt at finding Toho made me laugh, I still remember walking for hours on end largely alone in the streets, thinking surely Toho is around the corner. I wonder why I never realized that there is no way a movie studio would be in the middle of a business skyscraper district. I now know not to give faith to the Japanese address system. ­čÖä

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    I agree Americans are largely obvious to the world, which plays a huge role in a ever increasing problems, we continue to ignore. I do say the younger generation with their savvy internet skills and willingness to question everything, do give me hope. Although the younger generation of Americans tend to think of Japan as magical Ethiopia of civil and government perfection all while fancy gadgets float about like Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium. They are understanding of outside culture, and people that although different looking are completely the same as them– if although bizarre at first, giving that America is a anything goes, no old history, no culture society, with the thinking they everything we do is always correct.

    Anyways…I havent seen this show you speak of, but I wonder if it anything like the typical wacky Japanese game show, if it is a good way to introduce the Japanese to Jane and Joe 6pack and their 15 stupid ass kids that suck off the welfare tit. That is after all the target audience after all.

    BUT I see merit in your thinking, and hopefully my negative outlook on Americans is warped and misguided.

    I would say to get Americas to look into older films and books from Japan or elsewhere, you must first raise the rather low expectations for what they are willing to watch and read. And that expectation is very low.

    I had no interest in movies at all due to seeing very bad movies from Hollywood all the time. It came as a complete shock when I more or less accidentally watch something proper. It was from that, in which I was wanting to explore the past and outside world of movies. As my taste grew for proper movies, so did my understand and willingness to venture into other areas of art, like books.

    Had I not by chance see something good, I too would properly be line for the upcoming film “Disaster Movie”

    The problem is very few people get the chance to see good movies, and its not they aren’t smart enough to appreciate , as they are obvious to their existence. And this the flaw of America, stupid, because we are obvious to the intelligence. But like I said it’s slowly changing, slowly.

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    Well, all I really wanted to say is, I would like to talk literature. A area I’m very weak on, but I have enjoyed the limited amount I’ve read.

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    yippee

    Hey, Jeremy, it didn’t make me laugh to think of you earnestly looking for TOHO, it made me think of how you had this reason to search, and then these Americans, when standing under the “Seven Samurai” mural, whispered to the camera that TOHO was “really famous:”-although, clearly they had NO IDEA why!

    HIGH AND LOW and a BOOK SUGGESTION: A person could write reams about the interactions of high and low culture-

    The permeable membrane of existance depends on nourishment from both sources! In literature, in film, in all arts-the mix of high and low provides a fertile soil for the growth of the spirit. What is “high” culture, anyway? What is “low” culture?

    I guess the funniest Japanese book about this topic is:

    “I am a Cat”:

    http://www.amazon.com/I-Am-Cat-Three-Volumes/dp/080483265X

    I have heard about this for a long time. You know, it would be really fun to read the book, then view the film by Ichikawa with Nakadai (or visa-versa). Supposedly, Nakadai is really funny in the film. Has anyone seen it? It’s part of the MY film series going on, now.

    It’s on my list, along with the “Showa Anthology” (thanks for suggesting it, Vili!)

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    yippee

    Those Americans on “I Survived a Japanese Game Show” (and, we better get some interaction with locals other than mama-san soon, or else this will be a horrible, horrible loss and another example of Americans thinking the world is Disney outside the boundaries of the U.S.A.-something not quite real) anyway, they always get these really interesting tasks when they lose a competition. Last week they had to learn to be rickshaw drivers, and this week they had to work in a Pachinko parlor. You know-to tell the truth-the losers always get the best experiences. I would feel so cheated if I was in Japan and never experienced a Pachinko parlor. At least out of deference to Ozu I would have to visit one! So, really, the losers are the lucky ones.

    The winners just got to go to a spa-which is nice, but pretty universal, except for this little tidbit: they had “fish doctor” fish eat bacteria and dead skin off their feet. Like lots of Black Mollies nibbling their toes.

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    yippee

    Look what you can have for lunch at Toho: http://www.tohostudio.jp/facilities/pdf/menu_lunch.pdf

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    cocoskyavitch

    I Survived a Japanese Game Show continues, with the American winners of each week’s game/challenge, learning more about Japanese culture. This week, the winners got to visit a Shinto temple, were blessed by the priest, and observed rituals of dance and worship.

    One of the fascinating things about the show is the Otaku feeling-as if one were dropped in a Japanese version of Barbie’s Dream House. The cute voices and graphics that overlay the action, the hyperactive, sweating host, names of the teams (Green Monkey and Yellow Penguin-the latter is always called “Yellow Pengy”) the Sayonara Boys, the games themselves-

    I don’t have any real interest in manga, anime or the like, but I do think Murakami is interesting, in taking the stuff of Otaku into the art world:

    http://www.takashimurakami.com/

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    cocoskyavitch

    This week on I Survived a Japanese Game Show our Americans, down to four, did something-or-other-requiring-costumes-and-something-physical-and-humiliating. I have forgotten for a moment, since the show is beginning to seem very much the same week-to-week, with a dwindling number of Americans participating.

    This week the winners went to the fanciest hotel in Tokyo and maybe the world (lap pool in the room…yeah, kinda expansive/expensive!) and the losers stayed in a capsule hotel.

    I wondered what others think about this show. Well, here’s what!

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    Jeremy

    I sort of like capsule hotels, sure they are hot as hell and smell like they havent been cleaned since 1970. Just getting wasted with a bunch of strange Japanese salary man via the Asahi whiskey vending machine, makes for good times.

    I have yet to see this show, I just simply forget. Whatever that clip in the link is about-it’s pretty funny.

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    cocoskyavitch

    Jeremy, hanging out with a bunch of strange Japanese salarymen by a whiskey vending machine at a capsule hotel sounds awesome! You’re lucky on two accounts: to experience that, and not to be a salaryman.

    The last installment of I Survived a Japanese Game Show showed our remaining three Americans in a variety of elimination games…none of which was as funny as the link above….the special was two hours with lots of yelling “Hai Majide”, banging of drums, hooplah…they wore a squishy suit and they had to saturate it in a tank then run through an obstacle course and squeeze out water in a plexiglass corner. The person with the most water won. This eliminated the last female player on the game. The final game was an obstacle course with spinning, riding a tricycle over a board while dizzy, then eating something, squashing “eggs”-giant balloons filled with yellow goo that splatted, going through flour or something like that, climbing a sticky wall, breaking through a hollow door and hitting a buzzer. The guy from Alabama won. The black guy from Chicago was crying a lot because he hated saying goodbye to everyone in Japan. He really loved Japan a lot.

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    Jeremy

    I watch a bit of it yesterday. I did see the black dude in the sponge suit, squeezing water. Then there was some younger white guy,that was going to go next, or was worried about the black guy’s success standing next to blonde girl. I dont know, I turned it off. It was sort of neat seeing this stuff on American TV, but I didnt find it of much interest.

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    cocoskyavitch

    Jeremy, I think I have reached the same conclusion as you…kinda nice to see on American TV but not really all that interesting. Too bad-they lost an opportunity!

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    cocoskyavitch

    Well, they are back at it-that silly Japanese game show (Majide) that’s filmed at Toho, with American contestants. I still get a little thrill when I see the words “Toho” over the gateway and the enormous mural of Seven Samurai on the wall-just an indication of how little folks seem to care anymore, though-in the last installment of the show they only showed a tiny clenched fist of our last samurai in the image:

    http://members.jcom.home.ne.jp/nobish/1161toho.html

    I am flying out to Zurich in an hour. Have a great summer, everyone!

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