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A “New Interpretation of Japanese History”; the seawall debate; CM of the week: Yomeishu

Teacher-cum-TV personality Osamu Hayashi has made Toshin, where he works, the most famous juku (cram school) in Japan. One Toshin colleague who has ridden on his coattails is history instructor Shinichiro Kanetani, the host of the new series “Shinkaishaku Nihonshi” (“New Interpretation of Japanese History”; TBS, Tues, 1:11 a.m.).

As the title implies, Kanetani’s take on Japan’s past is slightly different from what is conventionally taught, or maybe it’s the methodology, since his lectures are often illustrated with humorous dramatizations.

One reason reconstruction of the areas destroyed by the Great East Japan Earthquake has been delayed is that local governments still haven’t decided what form reconstruction should take.

An important consideration are the seawalls, which are covered in the NHK Special “Bohatei Sorezore no Sentaku” (“Choosing Their Own Seawalls”; NHK-G, Fri, 10 p.m.).

Each coastal town or city is struggling to decide what sort of breakwater it needs. Kamaishi, in Iwate Prefecture, had one of the longest in the world, but it didn’t prevent the tsunami from destroying much of the city. Should it build a bigger one?

Many localities are thinking they shouldn’t build seawalls at all, especially if they derive their income from sightseeing. Some believe that, no matter how high they build one, it won’t make a difference in a disaster.

There is also the matter of false security, the idea that these towns and cities can relax if they build a seawall big enough, when what they should really emphasize are more effective evacuation plans.

CM of the Week: Yomeishu

Actress Erika Sawajiri is often cited as the current representative example of Japanese beauty. In a spot for Ururusu, a “beauty health” beverage made by Chinese herbal drink maker Yomeishu, Sawajiri daintily digs into a table full of pastries while a ghostly figure lingers in the background sipping on Ururuau, the idea being that if you drink it five minutes before eating you can “stay beautiful.” Though the ghost isn’t identified, net commenters speculate she looks a lot like pop idol Akina Nakamori, an earlier representative example of Japanese beauty.