Boy band Arashi has been getting a lot of work recently from NHK. In addition to their second consecutive hosting gig for the year-end song contest, they’ve been tapped to navigate “Asu ni Kakeru Tabi” (“Travels Building a Bridge to Tomorrow”) a series of five programs, three of which air this week (Mon.-Wed., 10 p.m.), that look at “ideas that point to a bright future for Japan.”

On Monday, Masaki Aiba goes to Miyako Island, Okinawa, to find out how locals are developing renewable energy. Jun Matsumoto journeys to Kyoto on Tuesday to learn about new and old “food cultures” that could be growth industries. And on Wednesday, Sho Sakurai visits a village in Kochi where youth are reviving the area’s forestry business.

Nippon TV is also broadcasting a consecutive night mini-series this week, but in drama form. “Pinjo no Merry Christmas” (Mon.-Wed., 12:18 a.m.) addresses the local tendency to think of Christmas as being a time for romance. “Pinjo” means “single woman,” and the three-part drama stars Shihori Kanjiya as Kaede, a 28-year-old who hasn’t had a date in years.

Kaede spends most of her evenings hanging out with her other single girlfriends in one of their apartments getting drunk. She works for a major stationery store, and her holiday season assignment is to come up with a Christmas card and point-of-sale campaign that has a romantic angle, which just makes her more depressed. A friend suggests a blind date with a deliveryman, so she invites him to her home for dinner but gets drunk and makes a fool of herself.

CM of the Week:

Nissan: Despite their image as being good for the environment, electric cars are still a tough sell, so Nissan has adopted a simpler economic angle in its new commercials for the Leaf series.

A young man leans against his gasoline-powered car while actor Kenichi Matsuyama leans against his Leaf. Both are drinking coffee out of paper cups. The gas guy asks Matsuyama what’s different about his Leaf. He replies that a night’s recharge, or “full tank,” only costs about ¥300. “That’s the same as a cup of coffee,” the gas guy says. Actually, money may be less of an issue than convenience, so at the end of the CM an announcer says that there are now 2,200 Nissan recharging stations throughout Japan.

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