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Japan’s empty-home epidemic; ‘Beat’ Takeshi makes sense of art; CM of the week: Kirin Beverage

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The problem of akiya (empty homes) has become more prominent in recent years as the population continues to dwindle. A 2013 survey found there were around 8.2 million vacant residences, detached houses and apartments in Japan, and many are worth next to nothing.

In the two-hour special, “Akiya DIY” (“Vacant Home Do-It-Yourself”; TV Tokyo, Sun., 7:54 p.m.), a young family buys a broken-down, 50-year-old abandoned town house in Tokyo’s Kamata district for only ¥1.5 million, which is obviously the price of the postage stamp-size lot under the totally useless structure. The main issue is that, due to zoning laws, the house cannot be rebuilt from scratch. It can only be remodeled. With the help of a “do-it-yourself expert,” the family endeavors to turn the heap into a hip coffee shop.

The show also looks at another family who renovates an apartment that no one wants to rent.

Comedian-film director Takeshi “Beat” Kitano recently exhibited his artwork at a famous museum in Tokyo, and he’ll be the host of the special program, “Sekai Kyokugen Artists” (“The World’s Utmost Artists”; Nippon TV, Tues., 9 p.m.).

The 20 creators profiled on the special are not necessarily the most famous painters, sculptors and conceptual artists in the world, but they are extremely unusual in their approach to art. Takeshi hangs out in the studio as a bunch of celebrities are sent into the field to find out about these artists.

Actor Yo Oizumi goes to Italy where he becomes part of a local hero’s time-lapse work. Fumika Shimizu travels to England and becomes the subject of a hyperrealist painting. Ice skater Daisuke Takahashi is used by one projection mapping artist as if he were a paint brush: As he spins on the ice, Takahashi appears to be scattering pigment.

CM of the week

Kirin Beverage: In a new series of TV commercials for Kirin Beverage’s multi-flavored carbonated soft drink, Mets, boy band Arashi play-act as a troupe of saviors in a science fiction mashup of “Mad Max: Fury Road” and “Star Wars,” with each member sporting an outrageous leather costume and wielding impressively complicated weapons of limited destruction. “This planet is drying up everywhere,” they say while surveying a desert-like expanse and chugging from their PET bottles of magic sugar elixir. Soda will save the world.