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A phone booth for contacting the dead; renewal after the tsunami; CM of the week: Brother

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Starting March 5 and airing every night for the next week, NHK will present a series of hour-long specials dedicated to the fifth anniversary of the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami. Suffice to say that only NHK could produce the kind of detailed and comprehensive reports the anniversary deserves.

The March 6 special will focus on the irradiated forests surrounding the crippled nuclear reactors. NHK brings cameras into an area that has remained virtually untouched since the accident. The special on March 10 is about an unconnected telephone booth in the middle of a devastated area that has become a shrine where people “communicate” with lost loved ones. On March 11, firsthand experiences of survivors will be recreated using computer graphics, while the March 12 show explains how the ¥26 trillion earmarked for reconstruction has been used so far.

Perhaps the most interesting documentary is “Zero kara Machi wo Tsukuru” (“Making a Town from Scratch”; NHK-G, Tues., 10 p.m.), about the effort to rebuild Rikuzentakata, which was completely wiped out by the tsunami. Last September, a giant conveyor belt that transported sand to the former city center was turned off and dismantled. The sand is being used to elevate the land, equal in area to 19 Tokyo Domes.

Construction work in Rikuzentakata is about to begin, and NHK looks at how the local government has redesigned the town, using cutting-edge technology that will unify commercial areas and public spaces. However, many businesses have already left and will never come back, and the population is declining at an accelerating rate.

CM of the week: Brother

Kabuki superstars Nakamura Kankuro VI and Nakamura Shichinosuke II greet each other to the strains of a frantic shamisen, the latter dressed in a suit, the former in kimono. Kankuro wonders why Shichinosuke is dressed that way, and he says, “It’s for business.” Kankuro spreads his arms and says, “But this is how we dress,” referring to their occupation. Shichinosuke gestures to the Brother printer on the table. “No, this business,” he says.

Kankuro throws off his kimono to reveal his own business suit. “This is the brother I love,” Shichinosuke says, and Kankuro acts coy. “No, I mean this Brother,” Shichinosuke insists, tapping the printer. Kankuro and Shichinosuke, after all, really are brothers.