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Former stars in tough times; Osore-zan, “Mountain of Fear”; CM of the week: Mos-Do

Japanese TV is fascinated with the lives of people who were famous in their youth, as shown on “Tama no Koshi ni Notta no ni, Sono Go Donzoiku ni Ochita Onna-tachi” (“Women Who Married Rich But Later Fell to the Bottom”; TV Asahi, Mon., 7 p.m.).

As the title explains, the subject of the special is former stars who wed rich guys and have since fallen on hard times. Among the four women studied is Sakiko Ito, an 1970s pop idol remembered for one hit song and a scandalous love affair with a male idol that finished her career. She married a rich man, but later they divorced and her life has been miserable ever since.

Then there’s Kozue Saito, a brilliant child actor who moved to New York City by herself where she lived hand-to-mouth for a number of years before meeting another expat Japanese. They married and opened a restaurant together that was very successful — until the terrorist attack of Sept. 11, 2001, after which her life unravelled.

This week’s installment of “Document 72 Hours” (NHK-G, Fri., 10:55 p.m.) covers Osore-zan, which translates as “Mountain of Fear.” It is located on Aomori Prefecture’s Shimokita Peninsula and is considered a spiritual place. In May, when the mountain is opened to the public, the snow is still melting and the stark volcanic landscape takes on an eerie cast. Japanese Pilgrims come to commune with deceased loved ones and there are plenty of mediums on hand to help them.

The documentary is not scripted. Camera people film what is happening in front of them over a 72-hour period. The volcanic landscape has been called “a scene from hell,” but it’s also strangely beautiful.

CM of the Week: Mos-Do

Two food establishments, Mos Burger and Mister Donut, have joined forces. Each now offers products made by the other, which means you can buy hamburgers in Mister Donuts and donuts in Mos Burger.

So the talent who normally promote each company are moonlighting in the others’ CMs. Petite Shiori Katsuna walks into a Mister Donuts and asks for a rice burger, while plus-sized Matsuko Deluxe goes to Mos Burger looking for a french cruller, to which the burger chain has added a chorizo sausage and chili sauce. Deluxe says it’s delicious. You’ll have to take her word for it.

  • Scott Reynolds

    Um, that’s “Mister Donut” not “Mister Donuts.” I didn’t really expect to see a blooper like that in an English-language newspaper.