NHK’s daily, 15-minute asa-dora (morning drama) is always about a plucky female, and this season the plucky female turns out to be a real person. The protagonist of “GeGeGe no Nyobo” (GeGeGe’s Wife; M-Sat., BS2 at 7:45 a.m. and NHK-G at 8 a.m.) is Fumie Mizuki, the wife of cartoonist Shigeru Mizuki, who created one of Japan’s most beloved characters, the adolescent yokai (ghost/monster) GeGeGe no Kitaro.

The drama opens in 1939 when elementary school-age Fumie (Kazumi Kikuchi), the third daughter of a kimono salesman in the town of Yasuki, Shimane Prefecture, is returning home after visiting her aunt. On the road she encounters a ghost and a strange-looking boy.

When she turns 10, Fumie becomes involved in a family dispute over her older sister Yukie’s wedding that demonstrates her unusual fortitude, which will come in handy later in life when she herself decides to marry.

A rcane research is the focus of TV Asahi’s 3- hour “Neo-variety Matsuri! Shirushiru Mishiru!” (Neo-variety Festival! Know, Know, Watch and Know; Wed., 7 p.m.).

The bulk of the program is given over to finding out the secrets behind some of Japan’s most successful companies, including Nisshin Shokuhin, the inventor of Cup Noodle, the candy maker Morinaga, and the kaiten (conveyor belt) chain restaurant Kappa Sushi.

In addition, everything you ever wanted to know about yakiniku (barbecued meat) restaurants in Tokyo will be revealed, including how many there are (more than 2,400) and which one opened first.

There is also a special section devoted to “quick research” into trivial topics, including the grip strength of a gorilla and the evolution of the hairstyle of Suneo, a character in the “Doraemon” series.

CM of the week

Yakult’s Mirumiru: A green clay-figure father emerges from the toilet forlornly clutching his abdomen while his little white clay-figure son tags behind carrying his briefcase and his red clay-figure wife watches. The voice over commiserates: he’s all “stopped up and gassy,” and suddenly his body starts bulging oddly. He opens a door to his stomach to reveal two bifidobacterium laying about, too weak to do their job.

He needs Mirumiru, Yakult’s bifido-rich yogurt drink, to supplement his digestive capabilities, which have been sapped by age. After sucking some through a straw the bifidobacteria in his stomach increase a hundredfold, ready to move those bowels.

Yakult is celebrating 75 years of Mirumiru, one of the first nonmedicinal concoctions to claim relief for constipation, but only if you drink it every day. There’s a reason why it’s called “irregularity.”

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