One of our favorite Japanese TV shows is Trivia no Izumi (the Fountain of Trivia, a title that sounds similar to the famous Trevi Fountain in Rome), which brings totally unnecessary knowledge to viewers every Wednesday night on Fuji TV. Originally a late-night show with a large cult following, the show hit it big when it was moved to “golden time” (9 pm), reaching incredibly high ratings of over 20%. The trivia they present is always fun and always useless. Which Japanese snack would world-class pastry chefs in Paris choose as the most delicious? (Lotte “March of the Koalas”) How fast does a piece of fingernail fly when you cut your nails? (39 km/hour) If you shot a Smith & Wesson .44 bullet at a samurai sword, which would win? (the sword cut the bullet in half every time, until they used a machine gun on it) Every week a panel of celebrities that includes popular swimsuit idol Megumi, half-Japanese/half-British actress Becky, and of course the Chairman, aka famous comedian Tamori, gives points to each bit of trivia by pressing buttons that make a sound like “hey!” (but in reality, heeh is a sound that Japanese say when they’re told something thought-provoking, meaning, “You don’t say?”). Incredibly, the show is showing in the U.S. as Hey! Spring of Trivia on Spike TV on Thursdays at 10 pm ET, and we recently caught our first episode on video. My son was thrilled to see the show in English, although he said the voice-overs were a little dasai (dorky). The official page for the show is here.
Another program we often watch is NHK’s Eigo de Shaberanaito (“I’ve Got to Speak English”), an interesting show that helps Japanese trying to learn English stay motivated. Every week, actress Yumiko Shaku and (slightly annoying) American talent Patrick Harlan take up various topics related to language learning, usually featuring Japanese guests interviewing stars from the U.S. like Jodie Foster, Julie Andrews and Matt Damon. Because the show is produced by NHK, they’re able to get many interesting guests, like former undersecretary of the U.N. Yasushi Akashi, and Natsuko Toda, the “Queen of Subtitles” who translates all the top American films into Japanese. It’s always an interesting program for anyone interested in learning a language.
Loose socks are the bulky, oversized socks that are worn by millions of high school girls in Japan every day, which look sort of like leg warmers to the untrained eye. They were invented by Akira Tokita, the “God of Socks” whose created the trend at the beginning of the 90’s, and they were an instant hit. The socks are so bulky and heavy that they’d fall down unless held up some way, so Japanese use water-based glue called “socks glue” to glue the top of the socks to their legs. J-List sells 70 and 120 cm length versions of these socks, which are very warm in addition to being a cool pop culture item from Japan. We’ve even got socks glue.