TV celeb wannabes, origins of noodle-making and mysteries of Azuchi Castle

Show business likes family dynasties even more than politics does, though you may wonder how new “stars” are introduced when they have nothing more to offer than their surnames. Eight “talked-about teen candidates” for show biz stardom are the guests on this week’s installment of the variety show “The Sekai Gyoten News” (The World’s Amazing News; Nihon TV, Wed., 7:58 p.m.), and only one of them, established child actor Ryunosuke Kamiki (born 1993), is not the progeny of a famous actor, singer or athlete.

But their purpose on the program is not to show off any acting or singing skills. They are there to comment on the show’s collection of video clips from around the world and, they hope, prove that they can hold their own on TV variety shows as personalities. Among the news stories they will watch is one about an impoverished girl in Argentina who was discovered picking through trash by a famous fashion designer and turned into one of the world’s most famous supermodels.

I t’s easy to take the humble noodle for granted. Its ubiquity, especially in Asia, makes it almost as much of a daily staple as rice; but, of course, it is a processed food. The question is: How old is the process?

This week, NHK’s natural- history series “Chikyu Doramachikku” (The Dramatic Earth; NHK-E, Thurs., 7 p.m.) searches for the origin of noodles, which is believed to be somewhere in Asia. The oldest evidence of noodle- making was found in a crypt in the western Chinese city of Shinjang in what is presently the autonomous Uighur region. Buried along with a mummy were string-shaped foodstuffs. The mummy was interred some 2,500 years ago.

From there, the show tries to trace the spread of noodles to other parts of Asia and the world. Along the way, we learn about the history of food as it affected various regions.

M ore searching is carried out on the long-running history quiz show “Sekai Fushigi Hakken” (World Mysteries Revealed; TBS, Sat., 9 p.m.), which this week looks at Azuchi Castle in present-day Shiga Prefecture.

The castle was built by the warlord Oda Nobunaga in 1576 on the shore of Lake Biwa. Nobunaga believed it to be the perfect location from which to keep an eye on his enemies, the Uesugi clan to the north and the Hojo clan to the east. The structure burned down in 1582 and there is still some controversy over the cause of the fire.

Construction was a huge undertaking that involved the transport of thousands of tons of granite blocks, some of which were six to seven meters thick. This feat is the subject of a major motion picture that opens this week, “Katen no Shiro,” which focuses on the man who designed and built the castle.