Unprecedented love stories, an emigrant artist and world travels

The topic of discussion on this week’s installment of the variety show “Za Sekai Gyoten Nyusu (The World’s Amazing News)” (Nihon TV, Wednesday, 9 p.m.) is “unprecedented love stories.” In particular, hosts Tsurube Shokukutei and Masahiro Nakai, along with their studio guests, listen to the true romantic tale of “an impressive letter that touched the heart of an elderly unmarried woman.”

This woman was a noted culinary expert who appeared regularly on television and at special events where she explained cooking tips and demonstrated her own original recipes for popular dishes. For years, she was the object of desire of one ardent male fan, who admired her from afar. This man, who was a music teacher, started writing letters to the cooking expert. The content of these missives, which are read on the air, were uncommonly impressive, and the music teacher and the cooking expert began an intense correspondence. For the longest time, they never met face-to-face, but then he asked her to marry him and she agreed. It was the first marriage for both. She was 77 and he was 56.

Few emigrants to Japan have had as deep a cultural impact as the American William Merrell Vories, though today most people won’t recognize the name.

Vories is the subject of this week’s episode of the art appreciation program “Bi no Kyojin-tachi (Giants of Beauty)” (TV Tokyo, Friday, 10:15 p.m.).

Vories, who was born in 1880, wanted to be an architect and he was actually accepted to M.I.T., but he couldn’t afford it and instead studied philosophy at Colorado College.

In 1905 he came to Japan as an English teacher with the intention of also doing missionary work, but in 1908 he opened his own architecture firm in Kyoto, despite the fact that he had no formal design training.

Vories designed many churches and buildings for universities, such as Meiji Gakuin in Tokyo. However, the program focuses on his Ukida Sanso, a small simple house in the resort area of Karuizawa that became the model for vacation homes in Japan.

The long-running travel variety show “Sekai Ururun Taizaiki (World Sojourns)” (TBS, Aug. 24, 10 p.m.) will soon be going off air, and in commemoration the program will look back at some of the places its celebrity reporters have visited. TV personality Taro Yamamoto has appeared on the program more than anyone.

He’s visited 10 countries in the last 13 years, and recently has been trying to return to as many as possible. On this week’s show he revisits his two favorite destinations, Lapland in Finland and the Namibian desert.