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A popular sub-genre of reality TV is the home-improvement show, and as with many things having to do with television, Japan did it first.

On TV Asahi’s “The Before and After,” which launched as a weekly series in 2002, superannuated, usually cramped properties are magically transformed into marvels of modern design. The producers hit on a foolproof hook for the show that they exploited successfully for years (the show continues to this day, though reduced to semiannual specials) without getting redundant.

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PHOTO GALLERY (CLICK TO ENLARGE)