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Osamu Hayashi teaches memory aids; painter Balthus’s love life explored; CM of the week: Aflac

by Philip Brasor

Osamu Hayashi is the most famous juku (cram school) teacher in Japan thanks to his frequent TV appearances and trademark phrase “Ima desho” (“Why not now?”). His main claim to fame as a teacher, however, is his ability to retain huge amounts of information.

This ability will be studied on “Hayashi Osamu no ima desho koza” (“Osamu Hayashi’s Why Not Now Course”; TV Asahi, Tues., 7 p.m.). Hayashi will soon turn 50 and says he’s noticed his memory has been deteriorating, so he has come up with a system to help him remember facts and figures more readily, which he will share on the two-hour special with noted brain scientist Kenichiro Mogi and Dr. Takuji Shirosawa, an authority on Alzheimer’s.

The Polish-French painter Balthasar Klossowski de Rola, more familiarly known as Balthus, would not like NHK’s special program “Balthus to kanojotachi no kankei” (“The Relationship Between Balthus and His Women”; BS Premium, May 17, 9 p.m.) because he rejected anything having to do with biography. But since he died in 2001 that isn’t a problem.

NHK takes a dramatic approach to the subject of Balthus’s lovers. Etsushi Toyokawa plays an “art investigator” who goes to Europe to find out about the women in the artist’s life. He visits his apartment in Paris and the Villa Medici in Rome, where Balthus was the director of the French Academy in the 1960s. Balthus also lived in a French castle and spent his last years in the mountains of Switzerland with his much younger Japanese wife, Setsuko.

CM of the Week: Aflac

The famous white duck that is the mascot for American insurance provider Aflac is especially popular in Japan, so the Japanese affiliate added a talking black swan to its advertisements for good measure. Voiced by comedian Hiroiki Ariyoshi, the swan is a mischief maker.

In the latest spot, for supplemental health insurance targeting women, the swan is in a private hospital room, though he’s obviously faking his illness for the purpose of attracting the sympathy of three women who sit by his bedside reading Aflac pamphlets. The white duck then enters the room wielding a syringe, presumably to cure the swan of what ails him, and thus calls his bluff. “Don’t hurt me,” says the swan.