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NHK’s five-part drama series, “Nebaru Onna” and more

A famous person once said, “You can’t go home again,” and for Hazuki (Naoko Iijima), the main character in NHK’s five-part drama series, “Nebaru Onna — Natto nante Dai-kirai (Tenacious Woman: I Hate Natto)” (NHK-G, Monday, 9:15 p.m.), going home is the last thing she wants to do.

Seventeen years before, Hazuki left her hometown of Mito and the family natto- making business to follow her brother, Motoharu (Tsuyoshi Ujiki), to Tokyo. They both hated Mito and natto, and became successful in the big city: Motoharu as an employee for a trading company and Hazuki as a designer. However, after Hazuki married and had a baby she lost touch with Motoharu until she went back to Mito for a rare family visit — and discovered he’d returned and was running the family natto factory.

Motoharu had changed and Hazuki returns to Tokyo bewildered. Later, she receives terrible news: Motoharu has died. She rushes back to Mito and her elderly father says there is nothing for it but to close the factory. Hazuki reluctantly says she’ll hang around for a month to help — but then something happens to her, too.


A different kind of homecoming is the subject of the “road fantasy” “Cactus Journey” (Nihon TV, Monday-Thursday, 11:40 p.m.). Aya (Satomi Kobayashi) is a Tokyo photographer who decides she needs a change of scenery. So when an invitation arrives for her sister’s wedding in Kochi Prefecture, she figures she might as well go, even though she’s never liked visiting her parents’ house.

She uses the trip as an excuse to buy a new car, which she plans to drive all the way. The car she purchases, however, comes with a “human navigator” named Nabio (Seiichi Tanabe) who sits in the back seat and says things she doesn’t understand. On the way, a young woman named Mika flags her down and says she will die if Aya doesn’t take her along.


This week, on the youth discussion show “Shinken Judai Shaberi-jo (Serious Teenage Forum)”(NHK-E, Friday, 11:30 p.m.), the conversation centers on a 15-year-old girl. When she was about to enter elementary school, her parents asked which name she wanted to use: Her Japanese name, Ayaka, or her Korean name, Che-hyan. She chose Che-hyan, saying, “Because that’s my real name, right?”

Her parents couldn’t argue with that and thereafter everyone in the family used their Korean names. Che-hyan, in fact, never felt as if she were different from other children until she was 12 and the 9/11 terrorist attacks occurred. She suddenly realized what war was all about, and came to understand that her own situation as an ethnic Korean born and raised in Japan was in essence created by war. She and other teenagers discuss what they can do to advocate peace and make other people their age interested in the world “beyond themselves.”