Japanese TV became famous abroad in the 1980s and created an image of Japan for outsiders that still lingers. The shows were the gaman taikai (endurance contests), where members of the public carried out tasks in which they suffered pain: The winners were the ones who endured the most.

I’m sure many of us remember the men doing handstands against aluminum in blazing sunshine, while staff focused the sun on the men’s nipples with magnifying glasses.

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