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The ‘variety’ of reasons foreigners come to Japan; profiles of Senshin Settlers; CM of the week: Kellogg’s

by Philip Brasor

The “You” in the title of the variety show “You wa nani shi Nihon e?” (What Are You Doing in Japan?; TV Tokyo, Mon, 6:57 p.m.) is fluid, since it can be used as both a second person and a third person pronoun. In both cases, “you” always refers to foreigners who are visiting Japan.

The premise is pretty simple: Japanese comedians go to the airport and waylay foreigners who have just arrived and then try to tag along on whatever endeavor they are here for. The foreigners who get ambushed this week include a German man who has always dreamed of being a samurai and has come to Japan to take sword-fighting lessons; a Danish couple who want to learn Japanese techniques for tying knots; and a 14-year-old Russian youth who is participating in a dance contest.

Historical revisionism in Japanese textbooks, with regard to World War II, continues to be a contentious issue, but Japanese history is so long that most junior high school students don’t get past the Meiji Restoration of 1868. This week, “Za Sekai Gyoten News” (The World’s Astonishing News; Nippon TV, Wed, 9 p.m.) profiles the Senshin Settlers — a group of people from Nasu in Tochigi Prefecture who relocated to Manchuria in 1933 in the hopes of making a new life of prosperity and comfort.

They didn’t because of the war, part of which had to do with Japan’s occupation of Manchuria and, along with the story of the settlement, the program looks at women who were sent to the same area to become brides In the confusion of war, they barely made it back to Japan, where their troubles didn’t end. Veteran actress Harue Akagi, who was born in Manchuria, recalls her childhood there.

CM of the Week: Kellogg’s

Breakfast cereal is so ubiquitous in the U.S. that it qualifies as a culinary subgenre. But as anyone who has strolled through a Japanese supermarket can tell, it has never quite caught on here, to the same degree.

One exception is Kellogg’s All-Bran, the punch line of so many old-people jokes in America because of its high-fiber content, which is known to be good for regular bowel movements. In Japan, regularity is the main concern of young women and in the latest All-Bran commercial, TV personality Yuka is seen floating through the air, suspended from a bunch of balloons. The idea is that All-Bran makes her feel “light.”