Yankee’s Matsui visits lectures kids in his hometown on NHK’s “Kagai Jugyo” and more

A year ago, SMAP member Tsuyoshi Kusanagi gave a speech at the United Nations University in Tokyo about children.

Though the speech was well received, Kusanagi wasn’t completely satisfied. He felt he hadn’t clearly communicated what he wanted to say and needed to know more. So he went to Thailand to visit orphaned children, an experience that will be presented as a special one-hour feature on this week’s edition of “SMAP×SMAP” (Fuji TV, Monday, 10 p.m.).

Kusanagi stayed at the House of Hope, an orphanage located in a mountainous region. The children who live in the orphanage come from impoverished tribes. In many cases, they lost parents to either AIDS or drug addiction.

Kusanagi finds it easy to get along with the children, despite their lack of a common language. He plays soccer with them and they visit the local market where he helps them sell eggs. He also goes with some of the children on visits to their home villages. They still have painful memories of these places, and some become visibly upset.

Yankees slugger Hideki Matsui also reaches out to kids. In the off-season he returned to his hometown in Ichikawa Prefecture, where he visited his old elementary school and gave a lecture, which was recorded by NHK and presented as “Kagai Jugyo (After-school Lesson)” (NHK-G, Wednesday, 11:15 p.m.)

The theme of Matsui’s lecture is “Don’t let your dream remain just a dream.” Matsui’s dream, of course, was to be a baseball player; more exactly, to hit a baseball farther than anyone had ever hit a baseball before. He explains to the children that it was in these very halls that the dream formed in his mind.

Afterward, the slugger takes the children out to the field and teaches them how to hit. Then he has each one write his or her dream on a baseball that they then try to hit out of the ballpark.

Bobby Ologun, the young man from Nigeria who became a star by studying Japanese on the variety show “Sanma no Karakuri TV” and has since successfully entered the world of K1 fighting, has finally got his own TV show.

“Viking” (Fuji TV, April 3, 1:35 p.m.) is a suitably ludicrous variety show about people and their muscles. Specifically, it’s about people who are proud of their muscles, be they body builders, martial artists or just folks with an athletic disposition. These people come to Fuji TV’s studios in Odaiba to show off their muscles, and, of course, compete.

Most of the competitions are no-brainers — pushups, situps, that sort of thing. But the ratings system also takes into consideration intangibles such as attitude and sense of humor.