One of the enduring conflicts in Japanese TV dramas is the one that exists between a bride and her mother-in-law. This theme hit its peak 13 years ago in the series “Double Kitchen,” which followed the daily boxing match between Kiriko and her husband’s mother, who, as played by Yoko Nogiwa, was the epitome of domestic imperiousness.
On Tuesday at 9 p.m., TBS rejoins this fighting family with the drama special “Triple Kitchen.” Kiriko (Makiko Esumi), her ineffectual banker husband and their two kids return to Japan after having spent 13 years in London, where her husband had been posted.
Kiriko has enjoyed the expatriate life and is not keen on returning home, especially since home is the Shinto shrine compound that her in-laws supervise. Mother-in-law Yoshiko is determined that her son take over the shrine when they retire, and she’s disgusted with the Western ways that the family has picked up abroad. Added to this volatile situation is Kiriko’s sister-in-law, who now also lives in the compound with her husband.
Kiyoshi Atsumi, who died 10 years ago, was one of Japan’s most beloved actors.
His popularity was based on one role — Tora-san, the bumbling, lovelorn traveling salesman who was the protagonist of the “Otoko wa Tsurai yo (It’s Tough Being a Man)” movie series. Begun in 1969, the series numbered 48 episodes by the time it came to an end with Atsumi’s death.
Aside from Tora-san, most people didn’t know much about Atsumi, including the fact that before he started the series he had been a professional actor for 25 years. The documentary special “A Portrait of Kiyoshi Atsumi” (NHK BS-2, Friday, 8 p.m.) takes an in-depth look at his life.
Atsumi started in vaudeville, and was a successful comedian who was used often on stage and television, as well as in the movies.
The documentary shows how he grew as an actor and developed one of the most distinctive comic styles of his generation. Even while working on Tora-san for three decades, he managed to do other roles that challenged him as an artist.
On Aug. 6, the 61st anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, TV Asahi’s news documentary program “The Scoop” (2 p.m.) will present “The Taboo of Showa History.” During World War II, the Japanese military was also trying to develop a nuclear weapon, and during the final months of the war scientists were busy testing their ideas. These tests were invariably carried out using American POWs as guinea pigs. “The Scoop” reveals details of the project that have never been publicly acknowledged before.