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Fun with frugality plus competitive money saving; CM of the week: Parinko

On the variety show “Shiawase Bonbi Garu” (“Happy Poor Girls”; Nippon TV, Tues., 10 p.m.), celebrities look at how much fun it is to live the impoverished life. The women who are the subjects of the show grew up during the recession, so saving money is as natural to them as breathing. The point is to make it fun — Abenomics be damned.

This week, Japanese showbiz’s most infamous snob, Madame Dewi Sukarno, goes to Yokohama to look as some incredibly cheap rental properties, as well as a few clothing stores whose wares are scandalously inexpensive.

Meanwhile, regular reporter Daigo looks in on a young woman who has come to Tokyo to become a pop singer, and Izumi Mori attempts to build a “Parisian-style” floor lamp using only materials bought at a ¥100 shop.

The king of straitened-circumstances variety shows, however, is “Ikinari! Ogon Densetsu” (“Suddenly! The Legend of Money”; TV Asahi, Thurs., 7 p.m.), whose entire reason for existing would disappear if the economy picks up.

The show’s longest-lasting segment, “Ikkagetsu Ichiman-en Seikatsu” (“One-month, ¥10,000 Life”), features two TV personalities who must live for an entire month on no more than ¥10,000 each. The one who spends the least is the winner. Currently, comedian Audrey Kasuga is competing with idol Hiromitsu Kitayama. Kasuga is already famous for his spartan lifestyle and uses his own six-mat apartment (without bath), while Kitayama lives in a vacant flat next door.

This week we find out who is the winner and so far Kasuga has the edge, thanks mainly to his resourceful use of wild vegetables.

CM of the week

Parinko: About a decade ago actor Ken Matsudaira was all the rage with a stage show featuring the Matsuken Samba, a sexy dance that he performed in glittering samurai garb. Snack maker Sanko Seika seems to want to recapture some of that magic with a new spot for its Parinko rice crackers.

Matsudaira wears a garish red blazer, white trousers and loafers against an equally bright red background. The entire commercial consists of him busting moves to the rhythm of the product name — “Pari-pari-parinko-PAN” — as if trying to come up with one that will make the same impression as the Matsuken Samba.