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‘Anne of Green Gables’ translator’s life dramatized; celeb sports feats; CM of the Week: Hotto Motto

by Philip Brasor

L.M. Montgomery’s “Anne of Green Gables” is the most popular young-adult novel in Japan, at least among girls. The original was published in Canada in 1908, and was translated into Japanese by Hanako Muraoka. NHK’s new morning drama, “Hanako and Anne” (NHK-G, M-F, 8 a.m.; NHK Premium, M-F, 7:30 a.m.) traces Muraoka’s life.

She was born in 1893 to a poor farming family in Yamanashi Prefecture, and knew nothing but back-breaking work until her father gave her a picture book. It inspired her to seek an education in Tokyo, She became an English teacher, then an editor of a children’s magazine. A foreign missionary gave her a copy of Montgomery’s bestseller in 1939, and she fell in love with it. The adult Hanako is played by Yuriko Yoshitaka.

TV personalities with athletic talents get to show off their skills on the three-hour special “Honoo no Taiikukai” (“Blazing Sports Club”; TBS, April 5, 7 p.m.). In the main segment a team of celebrities who are supposedly better-than-average tennis players take on world-class pro Kei Nishikori in a “revenge match.” The coach of the celebrity team is former tennis pro Shuzo Matsuoka, who is probably better known nowadays as a TV personality in his own right. He gives each player personal pointers on how to play Nishikori.

In addition, popular 9-year-old child actress Miyu Honda takes figure skating lessons, which is not much of a challenge for her since her older brother, Eiji, is an accomplished figure skater. In fact, her father was a figure skater, too.

CM of the Week: Hotto Motto

In the latest ad for the nationwide take-out bento (lunch box) chain, rakugo veteran Katsura Bunshi VI (formerly Katsura Sanshi) is sitting under a cherry tree in bloom and enjoying the chain’s high-end makunouchi bento. He especially appreciates that the dish “has shumai in it,” implying that it’s unusual for such a bento to have Chinese pot stickers. He turns around and notices his neighbor, former major league pitcher Kazuhisa Ishii, who is also appreciating a bento, and says to himself, “Yoshimoto also has Ishii in it.” Yoshimoto is Yoshimoto Kogyo, the biggest talent agency for comedians in Japan, and Katsura’s employer. Ishii is now represented by Yoshimoto, which Katsura’s tone implies is also unusual. Do inside jokes sell bentos?