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¥100 store recipes; the 33 steps to Freemasonry; CM of the week: Nihon Seimei Hoken

The government continues to chip away at the welfare state, reducing benefits for poor families and forcing them to find new ways of saving what little money they have. Luckily the variety show “Ikinari! Ogon Densetsu” (“Suddenly! The Legend of Money”; TV Asahi, Thurs., 7 p.m.) is always there to help.

This week, “cooking researcher” Yuki Morisaki will show viewers how to live off the food they can buy at ¥100 stores. Morisaki has devised 100 recipes that use only ingredients that can be bought in such stores. For one week, she cooks two meals a day for herself and one a day for herself and a guest, spending no more than ¥1,000 a day. Anybody can be poor, but only the clever can make it fun.

Japan’s most famous plastic surgeon, Dr. Katsuya Takasu, has a reputation as an international jet-setter thanks to the TV commercials for his clinic, which feature him in exotic settings. On this week’s installment of the late-night variety show “Kaikin! Bakuro Night” (“Revealed! Night of Exposure”; TV Tokyo, Thurs., 11:58 p.m.), Takasu will talk about his membership in the world’s “most secret society,” the Freemasons.

He will explain the process of being invited and then accepted, which involves a total of 33 steps. He also explains why not everyone can join, and discusses his own qualifications.

The program will also profile a photographer who just published a book that “looks behind the veil” of official North Korea. The photographer went into the countryside and came back with startling pictures of regional life.

CM of the week: Nihon Seimei Hoken

Though he’s actually 32, V6 member Junichi Okada plays a salaryman in his 20s in the new ads for life insurance provider Nissay. He sits at his dining room table with older versions of himself — one in his 30s, another in his 40s and a third in his 50s. The 20-something Okada wants to know if he’ll get married, and 40-something Okada says he will, but when he asks who, 50-something Okada says it’s better if he doesn’t know.

“My present girlfriend?” he suggests, and when 30-something Okada asks who that is he replies, “Yuri.” They all nod knowingly and 20-something Okada is taken back. 50-something Okada says, “Just work hard from now on.” That goes without saying. Whomever he marries, he’ll need life insurance.