TBS’s “Around the World! Dream and Romance and Money” and more

Popular boy band Tokio is on an economic kick this week. On the Oct. 3 installment of their weekly Nihon TV show “Tetsuwan Dash,” three members are dropped off in Zurich, Switzerland. Each armed with only 10,000 yen in cash, they have to see how far that money can take them.

This formula is repeated more ambitiously later in the week when all five members are featured in a two-hour special, “Around the World! Dream and Romance and Money” (TBS, Tue., 9 p.m.). Again, each member is given 10,000 yen, but this time they have to find out how much 10,000 yen will buy in different countries, which they visit in person.

Shigeru Joshima takes “land” as his theme. He wants to know how much land 10,000 yen will buy in various places in the world. Tatsuya Yamaguchi tackles the “food” theme in the usual way, by seeing how much you can eat with 10,000 yen in various countries. Masahiro Matsuoka researches “work”: how much labor will 10,000 yen buy? Meanwhile, Taishi Kokubun goes to the Philippines to see how far 10,000 yen will get him in the country’s cheapest taxi.

Tomoya Nagase makes the most pointed journey. He goes to an impoverished area of Cambodia that has a high incidence of AIDS cases. He finds out just how much medicine 10,000 yen can buy, and how many people it can treat.

One of the hit drama series of summer 2003 was “Ooku,” about the concubines of the shogun during the Edo Period. On Thursday at 10 p.m., Fuji TV starts a second series, “Shin-Ooku,” which concentrates mainly on the younger days of the concubines’ caretaker, usually referred to as the kasuga no tsubone, whose name in the series is Ofuku.

Ofuku (Yuki Matsushita) is divorced by her husband after she stabs his mistress, and is forced to take a position as wet nurse for the second son of the shogun, Hidetada. This puts her in conflict with the wet nurse of the shogun’s first son, not to mention on a collision course with the shogun’s wife, Ogo-no-kata (Reiko Takashima). If you like cat fights and intrigues of the feminine type (there’s a poisoning every day), don’t miss it.

Writer Michiko Ishimure has dedicated her entire professional life to the postwar tragedy of Minamata in Kumamoto Prefecture. In the 1950s and ’60s, thousands of residents were stricken with Minamata Disease, a nerve-destroying ailment caused by the mercury that was pumped into Minamata Bay by Chisso Corp. The town became an international symbol of the ravages caused by unchecked industrial progress and pollution in general. Eventually, the bay had to be filled in.

On Friday on NHK Sogo at 11 p.m. Ishimure talks about her work with sufferers of Minamata Disease and her writing on the subject, which includes a noh play that was performed in the town Aug. 28.