Factories floundering in Thailand; textile master Junichi Arai; CM of the week: Epson

More than 400 Japanese companies have operations in Thailand, most of them manufacturers taking advantage of the country’s lower wages and open trade agreement with China. However, these factories have come to a virtual standstill due to rising floodwaters.

TV Tokyo’s business documentary series “Gaia no Yoake” (“The Dawn of Gaia,” Tues., 10 p.m.) sent a news crew to Thailand before the flooding became serious and spread to the factory districts. The original purpose was to report on this huge manufacturing zone, but in the end the crew were able to witness the inundation of the area as it happened, and much of the footage they shot will be shown publicly for the first time.

Junichi Arai is considered one of the foremost fabric artists in the world. At 79 he continues to develop new textiles that combine metals, acrylic and plastic film with traditional materials that challenge the conventional concept of “cloth.”

Arai is the subject of NHK’s “Tokyo Fashion Express” (BS1, Thurs., 2 p.m.), which looks at his long history of creating fabrics for all of Japan’s major fashion houses, as well as his own distinctive art installations. In 1987, he was named Honorable Royal Designer for Industry by the Royal Academy of Arts in Great Britain. Despite his many honors and world travel, he maintains his original workshop in Kiryu, Gunma Prefecture, traditionally the center of Japan’s textile industry. It is also where he was born and raised.

CM of the week

Epson: A salaryman, played by Koji Yakusho, arrives home from work to his luxurious tower condo and is startled to be met by a uniformed maid, played by much younger actress Meisa Kuroki.

“Welcome home,” she says, leading him by the hand into the apartment. “Shall I prepare dinner? A bath?” she asks and then, with a meaningful turn of the head, adds, “Or something else?”

“Eh?” he says, with a hopeful smile.

What she means by “something else” is his new Epson Colorio printer, which she proceeds to show him how to use.

Some middle-aged male fantasies are eternal, and the demure, willing female servant seems to be one of them. Yakusho makes a lot of commercials and this is at least the second one in which he shares screen time with Kuroki.