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Penny pinchers and post office patrons; CM of the week: Takarakuji

Last week on comedian Sanma Akashiya’s Nippon TV talk show, TV personality Chiaki, whose family is rich, betrayed envy for her less fortunate colleagues when she complained, “Poor people always have lots of interesting stories.”

That’s the premise of the series “Shiawase Bombi Garu” (“Happy Poor Girls”; Nippon TV, Tues., 7:56 p.m.). This week’s three-hour special reports on a woman who came in third in a national beauty pageant but nevertheless lives in a 43-year-old Tokyo apartment with no bathroom that rents for only ¥28,000 a month. Then there’s the woman who offsets the expense of living in pricey Kamakura by furnishing her home with nothing but items bought at ¥100 shops.

Breaking the show’s gender divide, presenter Tatsuya Yamaguchi goes shopping at a discount supermarket in Iwate Prefecture and tries to prepare lunch for 10 staff members with only ¥2,000.

The Internet, combined with various private delivery services, has effectively made the Post Office obsolete. NHK series “Document 72 Jikan” (“Document 72 Hours”; NHK-G, Fri., 10:55 p.m.) doesn’t tackle that issue, but this week it does attempt to show what goes on in one of the country’s busiest mail centers, the one in Shinjuku, Tokyo.

With cameras positioned at the windows over a 72-hour period, the free-form documentary shows how a wide variety of people, including one inventor, still rely on postal services to send personal effects that email just can’t handle. Despite its outmoded image, the Post Office turns out to be just as much of a humming social center as ever.

CM of the week: Takarakuji

To promote the yearend Jumbo lottery, which boasts a ¥7 million jackpot, Takarakuji is supplementing its ongoing use of SMAP heartthrob Takuya Kimura with three other high-profile celebrities: veteran actor Tetsuya Watari in his younger hardboiled incarnation, model-actress Mitsu Dan and flamboyant choreographer-TV personality Chris Matsumura.

All four personalities are represented by marionettes, and while Kimura is definitely supplying the voice for his string-controlled avatar, it’s not clear if the other three are doing the same, since their respective vocal expressions are so exaggerated. Maybe Takarakuji doesn’t have to pay as much if the actual stars don’t take part.