NHK’s “Tsurube no Kazoku ni Kanpai,” “Chikyu Dramatic” and more

This week, NHK’s travel show “Tsurube no Kazoku ni Kanpai” (Tsurube Toasts Families; NHK-G, Monday, 8 p.m.) begins a two-part series on a trip to Ishikawa prefecture.

The weekly program features rakugo storyteller Tsurube Shofukutei visiting a small town or village, randomly meeting people on the street and getting himself invited to their homes in order to meet as many members of their extended families as possible.

Each week he brings along a famous guest who also walks around meeting people. For this special two-part series it’s veteran journalist Shuntaro Torigoe, which is appropriate since they will be visiting a village in Ishikawa that used to be called Torigoe. Several years ago the village consolidated with other local governments to form the city of Hakusan, but many years earlier Torigoe received a gift of local rice from the mayor of the village and his objective on this journey is to locate the former mayor and thank him for the rice.

NHK’s new series “Chikyu Dramatic” (NHK-E, Wednesday, 7 p.m.) presents documentaries on the theme of man’s relationship with the earth. This week, the topic is El Nino, which means “boy” in Spanish and refers to the meteorological phenomenon created every five or six years off the Pacific coast of South America when ocean temperatures rise.

Though the name sounds innocuous, the El Nino phenomenon wreaks havoc on weather patterns all over the globe, causing both violent storms and droughts. The documentary presents evidence of El Nino’s influence on the global climate, and offers conjectures about the part it may have played in historical disasters, including the destruction of entire civilizations. In addition, the program looks at what El Nino means in the larger problem of global warming.

This week’s special guest on the variety talk show “Downtown DX” (Nihon TV, Thursday, 10 p.m.) is the popular Bulgarian sumo wrestler Kotooshu. The comedy duo Downtown insist that their guests reveal intimate details of their lives and the tall, handsome Ozeki, whose real name is Blagovest Sendov, has plenty to offer.

Of chief interest to sports fans will be Kotooshu’s close friendship with the Bosnian-born Yugoslav coach of Team Japan, Ivica Osim. In fact, he is intimate with Osim’s entire family, especially his wife, who he says now asks everyone she meets to call her “the mother of Japan.” The rikishi met Osim through his good friend and fellow Bulgarian, Ilian Stoyanov, who plays soccer for JEF United Ichihara.

Kotooshu also talks about his college days, when he was so poor he often went days without eating. He relates an anecdote about how he caught a pigeon in the attic of his dormitory and ate it.