On Monday, NHK starts a new morning drama, which means U.S. actress Charlotte Kate Fox, who played the female lead in the previous series, “Massan,” will be leaving Japan soon. But before she does she has to do at least one variety show, so she’ll be the guest for the regular “SMAP Bistro” segment on “SMAP X SMAP” (Fuji TV, Mon., 9 p.m.).

In the segment, SMAP leader Masahiro Nakai entertains the guest, while his bandmates, divided into two teams, compete to make dishes that will please the guest’s taste buds. In this instance, Fox has requested a “Japanese-style breakfast.” While the two groups cook away, she relates anecdotes about the making of “Massan” and her life in Japan. She also reveals a previously undisclosed talent for picking up objects adroitly with her toes, a skill also possessed by Tsuyoshi Kusanagi, who challenges her to a contest.

Back in the ’70s, capsule hotels epitomized a futuristic concept of Japan. Now, they seem almost quaint and old-fashioned, although in the last year or so they’ve become quite popular among young people.

The NHK series “Documentary 72 Hours” (NHK-G, Fri., 10:55 p.m.) places a camera crew in a capsule hotel for 72 straight hours, taping the activity and talking to patrons, many of whom are foreign tourists who say they heard about the inns by word of mouth. “It’s like a cave,” one of them comments on the peculiar shape of the “rooms.” The crew also interviews some Japanese students who are staying in the hotel prior to taking their university entrance exams.

CM of the week: Kincho

It’s that time of year again. Time to pack away all your sweaters and winter clothing with moth-proofing products, of which Kincho’s GonGon is the most famous in Japan.

In the first “episode” of what promises to be a series of CMs, Anna Tsuchiya, who’s been appearing in the company’s ads for three years, plays “evil woman, Gonko,” who is admiring the wardrobe of a young bride played by Miki Higashi.

“They’re beautiful,” Gonko enthuses, taking in the colorful clothing. “Just like the closet of a newlywed.”

She strokes a red pullover and says under her breath, “He still has the matching sweater we bought.”

Higashi hears this and is struck dumb as Gonko slowly turns to her with the creepiest expression you’ve ever seen.

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.