features

The key to loving Japanese TV if you're a foreigner

120 Comments
By Corey Gold, RocketNews24

It is common knowledge in the expat community in Japan that Japanese TV is awful. But what if this notion was a fallacy? A self-perpetuated myth? What if I told you it can be more enjoyable than Western TV?

I understand why foreigners are inclined to hate on Japanese TV, even as an avid Japanese TV lover for the past couple of decades, it can get on my nerves at times. However, I would argue that Japanese TV is like a fine wine, it gets better with age — but if you leave it too long, it can start to smell a bit rancid.

Often after a break from Japanese TV, I find myself getting frustrated at the silly catchphrases and over-exaggerations. But after a couple of hours of viewing, this feeling seems to dissipate and I start to enjoy these haphazardly calculated attempts at entertainment and humour.

The bottom line is you have to give it an objective chance – don’t just listen to others who have given up on Japanese TV and have given it the gaijin disapproval stamp of “utter rubbish” – perhaps many of these people never actually gave it a fair go.

“But why bother?” I hear you ask. Well for one, it is fantastic for Japanese language practice, both listening and reading, with subtitles often being displayed on screen. And secondly, you can learn a lot about Japanese culture, news, current events, and humour – a lot of which may have gone over your head at the izakaya last night and you didn’t even know it.

So what’s the key?

Familiarity.

Both familiarity with the format and perhaps more importantly familiarity with the people on TV. I’ve avoided the term celebrity or “talent” here, since these words, like Japanese TV itself, can have a bad stigma associated with them. But there is a misconception that the people on TV are just hacks that shot to stardom from doing stupid things or acting all crazy-like. Well, this is true for some – but these are the people that don’t hang around very long and “kieru” (disappear) from the screens.

Many TV celebrities have had to work hard for their status (of course, there are some that have come from privileged families already famous or in the industry but that goes for any country), especially comedians, who, personally, I find the most entertaining.

Far from just doing stupid things like rolling in gallons of lubricant or navigating insane obstacle courses, the large majority of comedians had to work hard – damn hard – to get on mainstream TV, often doing years and years of stand up comedy at small, very low-paying events. You will regularly hear of amateur and semi-professional comedians working several menial part-time jobs for decades just to keep up their dream of making it on TV alive.

Often these people know they have to do outrageous things just to get noticed, which is why many of the new comedians seem so ridiculous. However, if they aren’t inherently funny or don’t have some kind of charm or charisma, they soon disappear from the screens.

There are many misconceptions about Japanese TV that have also fuelled the hate. Possibly the most prevalent is that the celebrities on the quiz shows or game shows are actually trying to win. Sometimes they are actually trying their hardest to win, but it depends on the contestant and it depends on the game. Very often a comedian will sacrifice a correct answer or victory for a laugh. Again, once you are familiar with the characters and shows this will become clear and the show will be infinitely more enjoyable to watch.

The more you watch the more you will notice patterns of jokes that begin to emerge. I have found that the relationships between celebrities is a lot more intricate than on Western TV – this feeling of almost family between everyone who appears on TV (also known as the “geinokai”, roughly translated as “the celebrity world”) allows for more interesting viewing as they are more curt with one another and able to engage in intimate banter. The staple ingredient of Japanese comedy is the "boke" (silly) and "tsukkomi" (serious) comedic framework. This comedy arrangement is understood between all celebrities and often makes for interesting interactions. This is why you will see people hitting (or pretending to hit) each other on the head all the time – the classic gesture of the “serious” comedian chastising the “silly” comedian.

As for food programs, well I guess I can’t really defend the over-exaggeration of “delicious” comments. In the end you just have to judge how delicious or not delicious the food is by the sincerity in their eyes. And, for what it’s worth,I have actually seen someone say some food is “mazui” (awful), but probably only twice in 20 years. Of course Japanese TV isn’t perfect, but I’ve seen many cuisine shows on Western TV that are guilty of the same reaction repetition. Once again, the key is familiarity. Once you have an idea of who these “delicious” people are, you will have a greater appreciation of where they are coming from.

So what have you got to lose? Give Japanese TV a chance! Who knows, you may even end up loving it like me – and then next time when someone tells you they love natto, you can tell them you love Japanese TV.

Read more stories from RocketNews24. -- 4 Japanese beauty fads that Westerners just don’t understand -- Fashion advice – Almost half of Japanese women say they don’t like guys wearing tank tops -- 27-year-old in Japan arrested for 3-D printed pistol, says he didn’t know it was illegal

© Japan Today

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.


120 Comments
Login to comment

THe key to loving Japanse tv....get cable!

35 ( +38 / -3 )

im sorry but I beg to disagree with you here Corey. It's funny how you start your article about 'common knowledge for expats,etc", well I hate to burst your bubble because I'm not an expat, I've been living here for more than 30 years and the longer it got the more my viewing J tv has lessened. It's riduculous and vulgar! Same faces all the time, Takeshi's weird costumes, and what bothers me the most is that when this talents laugh at their own jokes they start to clap as well. Does it look familiar? They seem to be the only ones that can understand their own pathetic jokes! I can only count on my fingers as to how many good programs there are, and mind you they don't fall under the category of comedy,.

42 ( +46 / -4 )

What the heck is an "over-exaggeration"??

6 ( +9 / -3 )

I'm not a big fan of evening TV, with the exception of the occasional show. So I don't watch it.

I generally watch an hour or so of the news every morning though. News reporting is of a different style here than in the west, but it's still informative, and relevant to Japan. It's a good way to get more information than the often information-scarce articles on JT.

6 ( +12 / -6 )

As for food programs, well I guess I can’t really defend the over-exaggeration of “delicious” comments.

That doesn't bother me so much as the fact that they all appear to be thinly-disguised commercials for the restaurants the "talents" go to in the shows, when there are more than enough actual commercials as it is. Which would also explain why they never say anything other than "oishii!!" or "umaii!!!" about whatever they're filling their faces with.

25 ( +26 / -1 )

I'm all for being contrarian and dispelling common misconceptions, but Japanese TV has few redeeming qualities.

29 ( +31 / -2 )

Food programs here suck. The whole point for those shows is to see how the taster can convey how "oishii!!" or "umaii!!!" the cuisine is. Oh, isn't her/his reaction so cute! Guess the Japanese public gobbles up the reaction as all the programs focus right at the moment the food is spooned into the mouth and the taster's reaction - the big eyes, the gasp of wonder... makes me wonder if these tasters have never ever had good food before. I wouldn't trust the recommendations of any of the Japanese celebrities.

14 ( +15 / -1 )

This writer has woefully failed to convince me. JP TV is unadulterated crap 90% of the time. TV news seems to stuck in an early 70's time warp and the weather forecast segments always make me think of Sesame Street. Commercials at times tend to be the best viewing.

31 ( +32 / -1 )

You're saying it's shallow, predictable and repetitive and the more I get used to it the more I'll like it? I'm inferring from this description of the comedy that it's rather stupid too. That seems to be the basic gist. It doesn't surprise me that there's something comforting about it though. There has to be some successful (propagandistic) element there, since it seems to be so much sameness. Also, much like education in Japan, form seems to be more important than content. Go rocket news!

20 ( +22 / -2 )

Mmatsuko delux. A huge fan, excuse the pun.

0 ( +5 / -5 )

Ah, the smug condescension of someone who thinks that there's no possible way for you to dislike the thing they like, so the only explanation is you've never given it a chance.

14 ( +18 / -4 )

I've noticed that Japanese TV has become very nationalistic over the past ten years or so.

These days I often see programs telling Japanese people how wonderful Japan is in some respect or other.

In other programs, unbelievably, they even enrol foreigners to tell the Japanese how wonderful Japan is.

Also, there are almost no hard-hitting documentaries giving a critical look at Japanese society or shining a light on a dark side of life here in Japan. I'm thinking of something like the excellent BBC Panorama programs in the UK... almost nothing like that here.

To me Japanese TV seems to be childish TV.

It's almost as if Japan is a nation of hyper-sensitive children who must always be told how wonderful they are and not be shown anything nasty that might upset them.

And because of its nationalist agenda to show how wonderful Japan is, Japanese TV often seems to be very smug and arrogant TV.

57 ( +59 / -3 )

IMHO the only decent J-TV is the VERY few educational programs. Otherwise I see zero reason to force yourself to watch the other J-drama and J-comedy (variety) shows. Its hard enough to find decent shows from the USA!

G.O.T. FTW!

2 ( +7 / -5 )

I loved Japanese TV when I first moved here. Sometimes when I would take a sightseeing trip and I was exhausted at the end of the day it was nice to have a shower, pull on a soft yukata and veg out to celebs watching other celebs walking around going to restaurants and chatting about the food. Or one where Kitano Takeshi presented "real" ghost videos and the other celebs reacted to them with amazement or mockery and then Takeshi would add a wry comment or two in a low-key sort of way, like the one where some hip-hop dancers are upstaged by what appears to be a severed head poking out from behind a concrete planter and he said, "That's no ghost. That's a homeless guy taking a nap back there."

Over the years, though, I've come to find most of it unbearable. There are the leering jiji being "hilarious" while doing things traditionally associated with young girls here like painting their nails and doing purikura. Haha, except for the sexist overtones. The leering jiji creepily interacting with AKB members, that genderless-kei kid on every single show sqealing YADA when jiji mock him, the time the hilarity involved locking effeminate gay men and transgender women in a shed and then telling them they were going to be exploded with TNT to see if they would drop their "act" and respond in a masculine way as the timer ran out on them (NONE DID, in case you're curious) and the one the other day where they showed an overweight guy with health troubles and every fact in his case was responded to with a resoundingly loud "EHHHHH?!" from the talent on stage and the audience. Then the profusion of Sanma and Sanma-related shows, the exact same music cues used in every single show, the constant use of the "rule of 3s" when something ostensibly hilarious happens and it's repeated exactly three times for three times the fun. And about eighty million hours of programing a day involving people walking around dull places and going to dull restaurants and having dull conversations while exclaming, "Oishi!" and "Umai!" at every dish they're served.

On the other hand, there are some fun shows. Maruko-chan and Sazae-san soothe, Itte Q is genuinely funny, Seiji's search for Japanese people living in remote areas fascinates, I always enjoy the journeys of the Yous on Why Did You Come to Japan?

I value having more free time to do other things (like write this dumb comment) now that I don't watch nearly as much TV or that when it is on (Mrs. Shmidlap), I can ignore it in favor of reading. I don't understand why it would even be necessary to learn to like Japanese TV. It really is mostly garbage.

26 ( +31 / -5 )

I have written, deleted and rewritten this post about 5 times. I literally do not know where to begin to describe how much I despise Japanese TV. I'll just make a short list. The baby-voice narration, the awful acting, the repeated oishiis and umais, Japanese vs gaijin, ehhhhhhhh, clapping instead of laughing, totally unnatural over-reactions, news that barely scratches the issue's surface, overly detailed weather reports, the sameness of the dramas, the endless replays, depthless (and blatantly biased and one-sided) sports commentary. This list is by no means exhaustive.

43 ( +46 / -3 )

I don't watch Japanese tv cause many things irritate me ;The constant use of popular American songs for commercials. The constant use of the Alvin chipmunk disguised voices. The constant "Umai" or "Oishi" when something is eaten. The news reporters facial expressions & emotional responses in the corner of your screen. The constant noise and laughter at things that, imo, are not funny at all.

16 ( +20 / -4 )

The departure of Hiroko Kuniya on "Close-Up Gendai" ended my interest in JTV.

13 ( +14 / -1 )

I have been doing what Corey Gold recommends over the past few months, watching evening TV just to figure out if there really is any merit in it. I can firmly conclude that there is very little. Some programs seem to be the visual equivalent of a jumble sale with nothing to link the segments. Often I wonder whether the last segment is even finished. Then there is the endless eating and the shows that appeal to this nation of hypochondriacs. And why have the choruses of "Eeeehh?" in the background? The music shows are abysmal with endless copy-and-paste songs by AKB and Johnnies spinoffs. And why is there an 80 year-old man in the middle of the most popular one for youngsters who seems like he has nothing to say? Then there are the wooden dramas and predictable comedy and, as chowaruoyaji says, loads of self-congratulatory and frankly narcissistic stuff about the country itself. Many of my students believe that AKB is a worldwide phenomenon or that the world is just gaping at Japan waiting to see what it will do next because that is what these TV programs hint at. And over all it is all very slow. A quiz show in the UK can get through 200 questions in half an hour. That number of questions would be dragged out for weeks on TV here. In fact, everything is dragged out to fill up the time. And then there are the absences which include good sitcoms and documentaries. Just when you think it can't get any more annoying it does. And this seems to be where the skill is. I often marvel at how irritating it can be made. I feel like only people with sheer contempt for their audience could do this.

32 ( +36 / -4 )

Over the years, though, I've come to find most of it unbearable. There are the leering jiji being "hilarious" while doing things traditionally associated with young girls here like painting their nails and doing purikura. Haha, except for the sexist overtones. The leering jiji creepily interacting with AKB members, that genderless-kei kid on every single show sqealing YADA when jiji mock him, the time the hilarity involved locking effeminate gay men and transgender women in a shed and then telling them they were going to be exploded with TNT to see if they would drop their "act" and respond in a masculine way as the timer ran out on them (NONE DID, in case you're curious) and the one the other day where they showed an overweight guy with health troubles and every fact in his case was responded to with a resoundingly loud "EHHHHH?!" from the talent on stage and the audience. Then the profusion of Sanma and Sanma-related shows, the exact same music cues used in every single show, the constant use of the "rule of 3s" when something ostensibly hilarious happens and it's repeated exactly three times for three times the fun. And about eighty million hours of programing a day involving people walking around dull places and going to dull restaurants and having dull conversations while exclaming, "Oishi!" and "Umai!" at every dish they're served.

LOL, amazingly spot on

4 ( +10 / -6 )

It is an established fact that when you watch TV your brain reverts to a low Alpha wave state, making you open to suggestibility, daydreaming, inability to concentrate, and is much like staring at a blank wall without using any logic or thought.

What the author is therefore stating, intentionally or not, is that in order to enjoy Japanese television you need to remove more logic, thought, concentration, and imagination and open yourself more to suggestibility and being told what is funny or not than you would if you only watched TV once in a while and more enjoyable programming. It is no wonder, then, that the author gets frustrated and confused and irritated but the stupidity of overused phrases and immaturity of a lot of what is said on TV when his brain has had time to recover.

"However, I would argue that Japanese TV is like a fine wine, it gets better with age"

No, it's like a cheap 200 yen bottle at the conbini when you want to drink but have access to nothing better -- the more you drink, the less you feel the damage you are doing and the more oblivious you become. So, yeah... better keep drinking it because otherwise it's one hell of a hangover.

20 ( +28 / -8 )

Sorry Corey, been here well over 20yrs now, its STILL garbage IN & garbage OUT PERIOD!

Yeah there are a few things that are ok, but as everyone above has CLEARLY said, its mostly utter CRAP, I could care less if the fools that ""make it"" on tv had to spend many years to perfect their idiocy...........its just mind numbingly sameness over & over.

MoonR & Choiwaru both really nailed it, that now common crap about how great Japan is has become rather disturbing & sometimes creepy to see.....

21 ( +25 / -4 )

J TV is just about food and celebrities, and celebrities eating food! . like eating green tea icecream, when you find there's about another 50 flavours available overseas, whether it being cable, internet , Netflix etc you never really want to eat green tea icecream again.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

Japanese TV is the media equivalent of a bottle of sugar water given to a crying baby. It shuts them up without actually doing anything healthy for them.

Some things I have noticed:

A remarkable lack of technology in news programming. NHK news anchors still hold up handmade cardboard signs and cutouts to illustrate news stories and the like. No computer graphics to speak of.

A lack of continuity in shows. Viewers can tune in to any of a myriad choice of "wide shows" and just start watching without worrying about being "out of the loop". Ditto for dramas and sitcoms. Total pablum.

"Where's the beef?" As others have noted, the actual content of most shows is thin and short. The majority of airtime is taken up by a baying panel of pseudo-celebrities talking over each other trying to spit out their pre-planned lines. Add to this the annoying presence of the "waipu" (the little box in the corner of the TV that shows a panelist 'reacting' to what is being shown). Very helpfully, viewers are told how they should react to what is happening. God forbid they have to decide on their own!

23 ( +25 / -2 )

I don't even think Japanese like Japanese TV. They realize how ridiculously puerile it is, but instead of demanding better quality, they have a "sho ga nai" attitude. I can't imagine anybody (Japanese included), looking through the TV guide and going, "Wow, there are two celebrities visiting a Raman restaurant in Ikebukuro...Let's watch it!" Or "Wow, two celebrities are visiting a hot spring in Hakone...Let's set our TiVo for that gem". At best, Japanese TV is just crap...At worst, Japanese TV is reflective of the maturity of its audience". Yikes.

20 ( +22 / -2 )

I love Japanese tv dramas, food shows and travel shows.

I got the lingo down, but the comedy shows go over my head. Those old men who sit on pillows...well, you gotta be raised here as a Japanese to understand it. I understand the vocabulary and grammar but the jokes make no sense to me.

I do not like Beat T. His movies are horrible and he is just mean.

Canned laughter here is much less then on American stupid sitcoms. Those are not funny.

For those annoyed at the limited vocab announcing delicious food, just get in the groove of things. If you live near a train track, do you still hear trains? I don't.

I would love to see the descriptions of food tasted though expand on its vocabulary. So many dishes here presented beautifully, but talked about on a child's level of wording.

Gotta go. BS8 has the GION festival going on. Very cool. Oh, by the way, there are a lot more channels on then you might know about. Ask your Japanese friends to teach you about your remote. Sayonara

-26 ( +3 / -29 )

Ugh! I'm here now--watching it. Nuisance, annoyance, repetition, predictable, cluttered, colorful distraction. I can do without. Note: the editing is professional and creative. I can appreciate that the clips are carefully done. Yet, (WOW!) how many do we need of audience "oohs" and "aahs"; close ups of audience; single-frame, in-depth, zoomed-in images; or text in all corners?

I'll go back to flash games.

8 ( +10 / -2 )

I've read through the comments & largely agree with what people are saying - especially choiwaruoyaji's comment about Japanese TV becoming increasingly nationalistic. It's not just the TV, it's the nation as a whole!

I'm amazed no one has mentioned the window in the top right corner of the screen of the tarento, showing their reactions after each scene. It's as if you're being shown how to react. Wait a minute, ...

After being here for almost a decade, I've concluded that Japanese TV is extremely childish. No investigative journalism, no hard-hitting topics in the news ('news' ie. propaganda), same-old dramas (no adult themes, controversial plots or edgy characters) that seem to be a copy & paste on-the-setting affair (eg. office, hospital, ship, police department... you get the idea).

What I'm trying to say is, the entire country is run by the Old Boys' Club. The media is for their entertainment & thus to their tastes. Very insular & full of outdated stereotypes, very stale 'comedy' (funny if you were born in the 1920s).

19 ( +21 / -2 )

"However, I would argue that Japanese TV is like a fine wine, it gets better with age"

but only if the grapes were good in the first place...well, that is not the case with Japanese Tv.

14 ( +15 / -1 )

To me, it appears that most if not all of the people commenting do not understand Japanese well enough to appreciate what the media is about. And, probably, 100% are clueless about reading Japanese. Study and learn.

-40 ( +5 / -45 )

Sighclops: I mentioned the little box a few posts ago. It's called a "waipu", or "wipe" in English. It was developed by network executives to stop people from channel surfing. They found out that Japanese tv watchers really aren't loyal to any particular program, especially variety show. However, they WERE loyal to whatever comedian or celebrity they like. So, the waipu was put there to show the face of whoever was on the show, and viewers who were changing channels could see immediately who was appearing on a show. If it was someone they liked, they would stop and watch.

I am constantly amazed at the absolute HORDES of talentos that infest a show. Panels of 10 or more gormless mouth breathers all competing for a few seconds of screen time.

That said, there ARE some good offerings available if you search, especially on the BS and satellite channels. Some great documentaries, such as "Asia Insight", and interesting travel shows that explore the world. The key is that these shows focus on the subject matter and not the host/presenter.

12 ( +14 / -2 )

I don't even think Japanese like Japanese TV. They realize how ridiculously puerile it is, but instead of demanding better quality, they have a "sho ga nai" attitude. I can't imagine anybody (Japanese included), looking through the TV guide and going, "Wow, there are two celebrities visiting a Raman restaurant in Ikebukuro...Let's watch it!" Or "Wow, two celebrities are visiting a hot spring in Hakone...Let's set our TiVo for that gem".

I think this is generally true. Most of us don't take it seriously. We see it as a long series of advertisements for songs and products and so on, with a lot of repeating meme-type humor. I can't stand variety shows. I like a few dramas or history documentaries but other than that I only watch TV for the news.

You might consider me an exception, especially since I hate mainstream music and idol culture. But among all my more "normal" family, friends, and coworkers I've never met anyone who would say they are "tv fan." I think my husband's dad had it right when he told me at new years "Noone takes tv seriously. They just want to see stupid people do stupid things so they can feel better about themselves."

7 ( +8 / -1 )

Don't need the key. After almost 25 years here I can say, for me, Japanese tv is horse manure warmed over. Thank goodness we can get pay tv.

16 ( +17 / -1 )

I’m quite surprised, actually, by the abject hostility of the posters above because I had (naively) thought they were a bit more sophisticated to appreciate the textured differences between cultures. Boy was I wrong.

Look, Japanese TV is a multi-billion dollar industry, and the producers, writers, performers, technicians, TV station execs, etc really couldn’t care a rat’s ass what foreigners think of it. Japanese TV is what it is for one simple reason: this is the way the Japanese like it. Period. So please stop b*itching and telling 120 million Japanese what they SHOULD like, according to YOUR personal tastes.

Japanese TV, like TV anywhere, is a cultural institution, and one with roots hundreds of years old. Rakugo, kabuki, Noh, Bunraku puppetry, enka and other performing arts have strongly influenced an industry that is only 60-some years old, so criticizing it for being childish or crappy is the same as disrespecting all of Japanese culture. I mean, how can making a stupid cup of tea be considered an art form, right? Is there any difference between disrespecting Chanoyu tea and Japanese TV? I think not.

I’m not a big fan of Japanese TV myself, believe it or not. But I understand it for what it is, the audience it aims to please (and does a good job), and I avoid the shallow, tired, repetitive complaints reflected above by hordes of “our-way-or-the-highway” Westerners.

Enough cultural imperialism and ethnocentric arrogance. How ‘bout it?

-30 ( +7 / -38 )

This is one of those JT articles where many of the comments are much better and spot on than the article itself. For what it is worth, here's my two cents.

People in Japan have a very high tolerance for repetition, whether it be working on an assembly line in a factory, doing endless drills nearly every single day for years on end in sports training, or television with the exact same content played endless loop decade after decade.

One genre that I don't think has been mentioned yet is the comedy/game show torture and endurance style program. Those are sometimes downright warped in my opinion. One of the common situations that has been repeatedly shown for at least three decades is the one where people take turns sitting in a tub of ice water to see who can withstand the cold the longest. For some reason, that one never seems to get old.

14 ( +17 / -3 )

Japanese TV is what it is for one simple reason: this is the way the Japanese like it. Period. So please stop b*itching and telling 120 million Japanese what they SHOULD like, according to YOUR personal tastes.

Although like I said, a lot of us think our tv is crap too.

Japanese TV, like TV anywhere, is a cultural institution, and one with roots hundreds of years old. Rakugo, kabuki, Noh, Bunraku puppetry, enka and other performing arts have strongly influenced an industry that is only 60-some years old, so criticizing it for being childish or crappy is the same as disrespecting all of Japanese culture. I mean, how can making a stupid cup of tea be considered an art form, right? Is there any difference between disrespecting Chanoyu tea and Japanese TV? I think not.

If people dismiss something just because it's Japanese then that would make me upset. But dismissing something because you dislike its thematic or aesthetic characteristics seems fine. It's entirely possible to respect one cultural product without respecting another one. Why can't you respect rakugo, for example, and not respect tv? I'm proud of traditional Japanese culture but that doesn't mean I have to respect idols or tv "talent," just like how I love old school American thrash metal music but I hate US pop music.

18 ( +19 / -1 )

"thought control" has been an important and integral part of how Japanese society, including its culture, has been trained by its rulers. TV is a big part of that nowadays.

14 ( +18 / -4 )

AttilathehungryJUL. 17, 2016 - 11:56AM JST

Add to this the annoying presence of the "waipu" (the little box in the corner of the TV that shows a panelist 'reacting' to what is being shown). Very helpfully, viewers are told how they should react to what is happening. God forbid they have to decide on their own!

I think they need those so their agents can see them and remember their names and faces for long enough to put them up for more variety shows and commercials.

ben4shortJUL. 17, 2016 - 01:34PM JST

Look, Japanese TV is a multi-billion dollar industry, and the producers, writers, performers, technicians, TV station execs, etc really couldn’t care a rat’s ass what foreigners think of it. Japanese TV is what it is for one simple reason: this is the way the Japanese like it. Period. So please stop b*itching and telling 120 million Japanese what they SHOULD like, according to YOUR personal tastes.

Ah, someone else telling us all what we should or shouldn't write. You're wasting your time. How do you know that's really the way Japanese like it anyway? How do we know that the TV companies haven't employed clever media spin to convince everyone that the only stuff they want to make (i.e. cheap, formulaic and low quality) is actually worth watching? After all, like Goebbels said, if you keep repeating the same lie over and over people will come to believe it.

20 ( +22 / -2 )

Japanese TV used to be a lot more risque back in the late 1980s, and truly bizarre even compared with what it is now. The censors have since tightened the screws and cleaned it up a bit.

One of the first shows I watched here when I was fresh off the boat in that era was soft porn-comedy mishmash involving a tricycle race among young women wearing short skirts. The footage was chock full of gratuitous panty shots and inane remarks by the always present panel of "talento" commentators. That one has been etched in my mind for decades now.

7 ( +9 / -2 )

a lot of tv in any country is garbage... but once you find the gems, they can be great entertainment during dinner with a beer.

in my mind, what makes Japanese tv enjoyable is how the comedians are able to riff off one another spontaneously. there's a certain rhythm to the way that comedians work in their jokes and though i'm sure a lot of it is pre-planned and made more snappy with clever editing, the fact remains that they aren't usually doing multiple takes of the same jokes to try and get the one that lands best like they do with most scripted comedy shows.

doesn't it tend to be the people who don't make attempts to make jokes that criticise those who do? i can appreciate anyone who makes someone try to laugh since one of the hardest ways to be funny is to actually try and be funny. when a japanese comedian bombs, that adds to the naturalness of the program and can also make it funnier watching them squirm as a result. and when a joke hits it's mark, there's a certain magic to it that can't be found in scripted comedy.

a lot of "konto" sketches are absolutely abysmal and are often based on wackiness but the ones that are more grounded in truth like "Suberanai Hanashi" are hilarious.

-8 ( +4 / -12 )

I don't even think Japanese like Japanese TV.

I can't agree with that statement at all. In my experience Japanese people enjoy Japanese TV.

I’m quite surprised, actually, by the abject hostility of the posters above because I had (naively) thought they were a bit more sophisticated to appreciate the textured differences between cultures.

JT posters love to deride anything Japanese. There is almost no acceptance on this site that different cultures have different ways of evaluating things like 'childish'. They evaluate Japanese TV based on their western standards, then decry Japanese TV as being childish, rather than understanding that it's just different.

If it stresses you out, it's better to not read the comments here, this site is filled with anti-Japan hostility and western superiority. Reading the comments will just stress you out.

-18 ( +9 / -27 )

ben4short: "So please stop b*itching and telling 120 million Japanese what they SHOULD like, according to YOUR personal tastes."

Okay, so hang on a second... you're here, no a thread telling foreigners how to like Japanese TV, b*itching and demanding foreigners not to tell people what they should or shouldn't think?

Hmmm...

15 ( +19 / -4 )

JT posters love to deride anything Japanese

This is a pattern of behavior common among many westerners in Asia who choose to call it their 'home.'

They have no problems making disparaging comments as about their host countries, but any perceived slights of their home countries will not be tolerated.

-26 ( +6 / -32 )

I agree with the comment, that a lot of Japanese like their domestic TV, in fact, I can attest to the inlaws leaving it on in the background, even when they'd it watching it.

This annoys me no end, can't people handle quiet ? Do we really need a soundtrack of eeeeeh, Oooiishiiiii etc, etc ?

The only other point I'd like to add, is that a great proportion of the programming is of videos lifted from Youtube, and around the web.

No hard hitting investigatve documentary (Cook report / panorama style)

No satirical comedy that targets the powers that be (ala Mock the week / Have I got news for you / spitting image)

This is Japan, where the revolution definitely WON'T be televised.

20 ( +24 / -4 )

"It is common knowledge in the expat community in Japan that Japanese TV is awful." I do not get this from the people in my circle. I watch TV for information on political events, science and culture. In addition to news, Japanese TV carries very informative and in-depth shows on science and it is an excellent source of information on Japanese culture.

-8 ( +3 / -11 )

This annoys me no end, can't people handle quiet ? Do we really need a soundtrack of eeeeeh, Oooiishiiiii etc, etc ?

I personally prefer white noise to silence most of the time. When I'm at home alone and working, I'll turn on the (Japanese) TV while I work, without even really paying attention to what is on/happening.

-6 ( +5 / -11 )

@Strangerland, @Nemrut Dagi

Yes, unfortunately the Ugly American hasn't changed much over the years and is still alive and well in Japan. Which is really too bad.

This stuff doesn't stress me out at all, though I appreciate your advice. I simply realized when I turned fifty that being cynical gets you nowhere. It is a dead end that does not lead to wisdom or personal growth. And it is far far too easy. A lazy man's response.

-18 ( +5 / -23 )

unfortunately the Ugly American hasn't changed much over the years and is still alive and well in Japan.

Yeah there are some, but the good Americans far outweigh the ugly ones here (Japan) in my experience. It's just that a lot of them seem to accumulate on this site. And they aren't all American either.

-5 ( +7 / -12 )

Readers, no more bickering please.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Imo commercial fta tv is awful regardless of the country. Public and cable/satellite still produce some quality programs though, and although my Japanese was/is very limited I remember enjoying 'The professionals" when I was there.

Agree with stranger, nemrut and ben re many J posters 'embellishing' how good things are/were back home. We have the same re 'the good old days'.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

The key to loving Japanese TV if you're a foreigner (or even if you're not):

Turn the sound off

Turn the TV off.

Works every time!

18 ( +21 / -3 )

I have an ideal that TV should not be a nationalistic sedative. I believe it can be better than that; that it can inform and educate and be a venue for the debates to make a society much better than it already is; that it can hold up ideals and inspirations and encourage people to think how things could be different; that it can be a crucible for daring comedy, art and theatre. If this is an ignorant western cultural imperialism then so be it but I also apply it to the TV - and many other spheres of life - of many western countries and often find them wanting too. You see, I feel what Japan does intellectually - and some have fallen prey to this - is deny ideals and idealism. What is is what is right. It is all about what exists there compared with what exists here. And it is limiting and ultimately ideological. Those who decry criticism from wherever it comes have been co-opted into the project.

14 ( +15 / -1 )

MsDelicious:

To me, it appears that most if not all of the people commenting do not understand Japanese well enough to appreciate what the media is about. And, probably, 100% are clueless about reading Japanese. Study and learn.

There's a saying here amongst the non-Japanese community. "When I first came to Japan, I didn't watch Japanese TV because I didn't understand the language. Now I don't watch Japanese TV because I do understand the language."

theeastisred

The key to loving Japanese TV if you're a foreigner (or even if you're not): Turn the sound off. Turn the TV off. Works every time!

I've gone one better. I sold my TV several years ago. And I've also put a sign on my door saying I don't have a TV or a computer which receives TV signals. Works a treat. Haven't had a visitor from NHK ever since. If I'm desperate for TV, I'll try my workplace or my partner's place.

The first ever programme I watched when I first came here was a quiz show with two families competing to answer general knowledge questions. Litttle did I know then that the vast majority of quiz shows consisted of brainless tarentos answering mundane questions, sometimes with obviously scripted 'funny' answers, and going on to win prizes for themselves instead of giving to charities. It's no fun watching someone like Dewi-Fujin win prizes for sitting on her backside. That's why Attack 25 is one of the very very few programmes I do like to watch. Consists of ordinary folks using their brains.

12 ( +16 / -4 )

The bottom line is you have to give it an objective chance

I did,and it still sucks.

11 ( +13 / -2 )

MsDelicious: "Then why are you here?"

Perhaps he's here for reasons other than watching TV. Would that be your purpose for moving to another country?

"The media is one of the joyful parts of learning about this place."

That's your opinion, and you're entitled to it. Suggesting that anyone who doesn't like it "doesn't understand Japan and needs to learn" is just more of the same kind of nonsense and insecurity that others on here suffer from whenever they read criticism and can't reply with an honest answer. They want praise, and if they don't get it the answer is: "You don't understand".

"Ben up above got it right. So did Gau and Nem. Please take your chip from your shoulder home and leave the few of us alone that appreciate this part of the world."

They did not, actually: one said foreigners cannot accept when their nation is criticised -- this is about Japanese TV. One said he has learned that cynicism is a waste of time -- in a cynical comment deriding others.

This is about Japanese TV, and people are entitled to their opinion of it, plain and simple.

Strangerland: "I'm only speaking the truth."

You're not, and you proved that the other day when you had to backtrack and admit that you were wrong in saying people hated everything. So, again, you are not speaking the truth at all.

"And other posters have derided them." (mature attractive Japanese women)

Where? Show us.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Blanket statements seem to always be what is posted here. Give JP TV a chance, and you might learn some things about Japan and it will make your stay more rewarding.

-15 ( +5 / -20 )

I watch TV but have noticed that the entertainment only consists of the same group circle and they only talk with each other unlike in the past when it involved ordinary everyday people. About the only characters I have never really understood are the two animal like characters that are boring and only talk to each but yet laugh at their own skits as the audience just stares blankly waiting for a punch line.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

To me, it appears that most if not all of the people commenting do not understand Japanese well enough to appreciate what the media is about. And, probably, 100% are clueless about reading Japanese. Study and learn.

I've been here longer than I care to admit, longer than most posters have probably been on this planet. I understand Japanese well enough, thank you, close to native level (I can pass as Japanese on the phone). I also read Japanese, have done plenty of studying and learning. I make a good living translating.

When I first arrived and my Japanese wasn't up to much, I quite enjoyed the telly here. The endless repetition and visual slap-stick was a boon in learning. Nowadays, I have better things to do with my time. I'll watch the news, a few NHK documentaries and some other stuff, leave the rest.

Then why are you here? The media is one of the joyful parts of learning about this place.

I didn't come here to watch telly. It isn't the telly that keeps me here. I think it would be rather sad if it was the telly that kept anyone anywhere.

20 ( +24 / -4 )

Give JP TV a chance, and you might learn some things about Japan and it will make your stay more rewarding.

I speak Japanese fine. I also read it and write (well, type) it.

Japanese TV just doesn't interest me. Which is fine, I'm not the target demographic. But other than the news, I don't find a lot of entertainment value for myself in Japanese TV.

Same as when I go home with my wife and I watch shows that entertain me, that don't entertain her whatsoever.

TV is culturally different. Not everyone is going to like TV from all other cultures. And there's nothing wrong with that.

2 ( +6 / -4 )

Plenty of stuff in Japan to love. Plenty of wonderful cultural treasures. Art, fashion, music, literature, movies. Many of my faves in those things are what drew me here. Any of that is vastly superior to what's on TV.

6 ( +9 / -3 )

commodore - I agree.

Generally it's what's not on TV that interests me. Aside from a handful of programs, I rarely watch fta tv. And the same goes for my home country. I bought my 1st tv when I was 31 and it was mainly to watch videos.

And please can some of you posters acknowledge that a dislike for much of Japanese commercial tv is not a dislike for Japan. Heaven forbid if ones love of a country was based on the local tv content.

Of course it's different - it's Japanese TV - but that doesn't mean it's good or I have to study up on it more to - you know - get it. I know what I like and don't need a preacher to sway me. It's like the contempt I have for a lot of the saccharine j-pop, while at the same time loving much of the alternative Japanese rock / music scene that doesn't get a look in on local tv.

But according to some, those japanese artists who proclaim no faith in the Japanese tv world must have no tolerance of their own culture. Eeeehhhhh!

I likes what I like and it aint Japanese tv - or most of it.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Japanese TV used to be a lot more risque back in the late 1980s, and truly bizarre even compared with what it is now. The censors have since tightened the screws and cleaned it up a bit.

Indeed. A program called 11 PM produced in Osaka was seriously raunchy. There was even some serious political satire. I don't know whether the government clamped down or whether it was uptight citizens, but it was certainly better then than now and it changed long before Abe got into government.

0 ( +6 / -6 )

It's like the contempt I have for a lot of the saccharine j-pop, while at the same time loving much of the alternative Japanese rock / music scene that doesn't get a look in on local tv.

Someone who shares my perspective for once!

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Really....don't.....like.....Japanese TV. At all. Agree entirely with choiwaruoyaji.

I am particularly vexed around Oshogatsu when the in-laws attach themselves to 2 TVs over the course of the week and positively bathe themselves in it.

I find the vast majority of it quite moronic.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

Western TV isn't much better either. With its heaps of recycled storylines, tropes, themes, and plots all hellbent on world destruction, crime, violence, sex, terrorism; pitting the good guys (America) against the bad guys (The Middle East, Russia, Africa, Latin America, etc); not to mention the obsession with self destruction transmitted and broadcast via the glorification of drugs, sex, violence, especially to women. These themes are stuck on repeat in western TV. So TV sucks all around. That's why I don't watch it.

-4 ( +3 / -7 )

"Variety TV" so called because it lacks any. In all the years I have been here, there are 2 programs that were "Yes, I really want to watch that!" Just two....Sasuke and Kiniku Bansuke. I guess you could throw the Pride and K1 in that too. So much inane, repetitive ad filled bollocks.

The key to loving Japanse tv....get cable!

Even that. I cut too recently. I have two things now. UK sky news - which live streams 24 hours on youtube. It's great,check it out, Free HD news. The second: Streaming providers Netflix. Hulu and Amazon Prime . If I feel the need for a movie, doco or TV show, that's where I go.

I will leave you with a quote from Sideshow Bob of the Simpsons.

"Sideshow Bob: Don't remind me. My foolish capering destroyed more young minds then syphilis and pinball combined. Ooh, how I loathe that box. An omnidirectional sludge pump droning and burping..."

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Junichi Ishida ... the 55-year-old TV and stage celebrity... laments the quality of Japanese TV programs today.

“There needs to be more programming for mature audiences. A friend at a production company told me the level is around that of a 3rd to 5th grade level.”

he says.

10 ( +10 / -0 )

the sad thing is if most Japanese had a good understanding of english they could open theire eyes ocean of programming from other countries, world class documentaries, many excellent tv shows and movies. Its like Japanese are stuck with one flavour of icecream, (which Japan broadcasters go to great lengths to keep them in the dark) when they can understand and have unfettered access to all the other flavours its doubtful many would keep coming back to the same flavour that is J TV..

8 ( +10 / -2 )

I'm a foreigner and I love Japanese dramas. That is my favorite tv watching. Who could watch Doctor X or 99.9 Keiji Senmon Bengoshi and be bored?

-4 ( +3 / -7 )

Japanese TV is CRAP!

There simply is no better way to describe it. Ten years ago we dumped our TV and are SOOOOOO much happier for it.

Japanese TV is complete rubbish!

12 ( +14 / -2 )

@Mr. Noidall

Western TV isn't much better either.

Really? You mean British, Canadian and American? There is a lot of variety coming from these countries. There may be good explanations for this. I just doubt Japanese TV can produce anything as sophisticated as The Wire or Monty Python or Curb Your Enthusiasm or The Twilight Zone or The Thick of It or Tanner 88 or SCTV or take your pick. But I have an open mind. Did Japan ever produce anything good on TV? I mean on par with their cinematic genius? Japanese TV seems a lot like the treadmill of Japanese work. They take a lot of time and people to make a lot of sameness.

11 ( +13 / -2 )

I like the old Godzilla & Ultraman stuff, went downhill after that!

3 ( +3 / -0 )

You mean British, Canadian and American? There is a lot of variety coming from these countries.

Sadly, not. Like many, I used to rant about Japanese TV when I lived in Japan, and I would preach about the wonders of British TV. After returning to Britain, I now find British TV dreadful, and prefer to watch Japanese TV on the internet. Perhaps oddest of all, I find the political discussions on Japanese TV much more interesting than in the UK.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

Surprised that so many gaijin feel like how I do. When I first watched TV in Japan, was mezurashii (so different) so was mesmerized by it, until I started to realize that so many tarento are on a TV panel, be it serious or variety TV. Do they find strength in numbers? Do the tarento come cheap? I only speak for the U.S. but what can be done by 2 at the most, moderators, the Japanese have to devote an entire panel of guests to commentate. Plus, the nation is not fighting any wars, strictly prohibited from carrying firearms, and a homogenous race so very little crime to report on--which Is a good thing. On the morning and afternoon shows, gossip or a story is stretched to about a 15-20 minute segment where in the States, would only take a few minutes to report. And why do we have to play a guessing game or take a quiz whenever there is a "Why?" in the story? I want to know immediately why panko on tonkatsu gets soggy or why your liver has to work harder when consuming alcohol. Agree with choiwaru about Japan TV becoming more nationalistic. They stronger they became economically, the more right wing they became. There is no version of FOX or MSNBC here. Also, they do not put English subtitles on paid NHK subscription overseas. I was told that this is because "only Japanese are allowed to watch." Have to give the Koreans credit in this department. Everything, legal or illegal is subtitled except for a few music and variety shows.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Japanese TV is appalling. Thinly disguised commercials for various shops and restaurants and the same 'talent' laughing at anything and everything. To call it inane is being kind.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

A colleague of mine was telling me recently that Japan is one of the few places in the world where TV ad revenues are in an upswing. I believed him. TV in Japan has a completely captive audience. Japanese is only spoken in Japan so the networks here don't have to contend with content produced overseas. Interest in foreign movies is minimal, and interest in foreign TV is almost non existent. This results in an endless stream of cheaply produced crap that will always have an audience. The majority of programming in Japan really is bare minimum in budget and production. I've worked on sets here in the past. High-school productions with expensive cameras is a description that comes to mind. As more and more viewers worldwide are turning away from terrestrial and cable TV for on demand services, this cheapening of traditional TV is a common problem everywhere. Thing is though, with the ad revenues increasing in the Japanese TV industry, I'd like to know why the networks and studios here continue to produce the cheapest, poorest quality junk day in day out.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

I’m not a big fan of Japanese TV myself, believe it or not. But I understand it for what it is, the audience it aims to please (and does a good job), and I avoid the shallow, tired, repetitive complaints reflected above by hordes of “our-way-or-the-highway” Westerners.Enough cultural imperialism and ethnocentric arrogance. How ‘bout it?

BEN4shorty, so any "criticism" (from foreigners) is now cultural imperalism? WOW! So WOW! I better tell my colleagues (japanese) this when they ask for my criticism of a curriculum or program--heck they are egging on my criticism of how meetings are done, which are endless discussions in which they "head" will just go ahead and go with what HE wants. But as for TV, it is ALL about "delivering" the viewer to the advertisers products for the lowest possible funding, so grab a bunch of wannabe "stars" in some panel discussion and have them talk nonsense. Pay them 1,000 yen, and BOOM, you have a TV show. Why even in the news there are "commercials" with the newscaster showing off a new product--a hammock with a mosquito covering. AMerican Tv is just about guns and more guns--just watched a "sniper" movie on cable--beyond sick. And this will NEVER change.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

The key to loving JTV? Move back to England! Its all a distant memory now thank god. ("Kawaii... Oishii.. Sugoi.." aaah- get thee hence, ye demons)

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Leigh Ivan Quintellio WightonJUL. 18, 2016 - 07:09AM JST

This results in an endless stream of cheaply produced crap that will always have an audience. The majority of programming in Japan really is bare minimum in budget and production.

Indeed, it looks as if the most expensive things to make are those interminable tokusatsu things, and I bet they don't cost a fraction of what it takes to make Game of Thrones.

Thing is though, with the ad revenues increasing in the Japanese TV industry, I'd like to know why the networks and studios here continue to produce the cheapest, poorest quality junk day in day out.

Three words: increased profit margins.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

The so called Dramas, slip into awkward comedy, which makes Rentaghost look sophisticated. There will never be anything as serious and heart breaking, as 'Boys from the Blackstuff'. TV to make you think, make you feel.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

"It is common knowledge in the expat community in Japan that Japanese TV is awful." Thinking about this again, I have no problem with an individual liking or disliking Japanese TV. But the idea that there is an "Expat Community" with similar tastes is scary, to say the least. RocketNews24 apparently represents the English-Speaking folks. Not me. I love Japanese TV.

-7 ( +1 / -8 )

A program called 11 PM produced in Osaka was seriously raunchy. There was even some serious political satire. I don't know whether the government clamped down or whether it was uptight citizens, but it was certainly better then than now and it changed long before Abe got into government.

There was a change to the Businesses Affecting Public Morals Regulation Act in 1985 that spelled the end of that great period of late night TV:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Businesses_Affecting_Public_Morals_Regulation_Act

11pm was great, a wide show for adults with sexy bits, music, satire and general cool stuff. I remember seeing the Beastie Boys, RUN DMC and a whole host of bands on it. Times change and it looks like something from another world now:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FD4hK37HwH4

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Japanese is only spoken in Japan so the networks here don't have to contend with content produced overseas

True only for live programs. Commercial networks buy the rights to foreign movies and some programs. NHK airs foreign content, especially BBC.

One of the commercial channels was buying in so much content from Korea that they had a serious viewer backlash.

I don't know where commentators are finding all that great US and UK programming. I grew up in the US and stopped watching TV in my early teens. Even when I worked in broadcasting I stuck to radio. I lived eight years in Britain without owning or watching TV. When I did sometimes see it in pubs or homes, the content confirmed that I was right not to have a television.

BBC radio is, however, incomparably better than anything in the US or Japan as long as you stick to Radio 3 and Radio 4. I'm still a daily listener to Radio 4 in Japan.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

I lived eight years in Britain without owning or watching TV. When I did sometimes see it in pubs or homes, the content confirmed that I was right not to have a television.

Funny. So you missed Play For Today, Cathy Come Home, Boys from the Blackstuff, Brideshead Revisited, I, Claudius, Edge of Darkness, The Singing Detective, Pennies from Heaven, Our Friends in the North, The Royle Family, I'm Alan Partridge, Auf Wiedersehen, Pet, Father Ted, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, The Ascent of Man, Kenneth Clark's Civilisation, House of Cards, Arena, GF Newman's Law and Order, The Life and Loves of a She-Devil, Philip Martin's Gangsters and Bill Brand. Also, you missed Alan Bennett, Mike Leigh, Denis Potter, Simon Gray and a whole host of other great writers. Well done.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

Being back in Australia, I'm actually really missing Japanese TV. Really grows on you after a while.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

Pretty much all TV is boring, whatever the country. It is at a lowest-common-denominator level. This is not unique to Japan. But Puf-the-magic-dragon hit a great point: "The departure of Hiroko Kuniya on "Close-Up Gendai" ended my interest in JTV." Critical talking heads are being removed under government pressure, including Kuniya. The minds of the population will be groomed for the coming nationalist Abe-state through TV.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

Thing is though, with the ad revenues increasing in the Japanese TV industry, I'd like to know why the networks and studios here continue to produce the cheapest, poorest quality junk day in day out.

Sadly Japanese being a CAPTIVE audience where there aren't a lot who know other languages, they simply don't know any better, its all they know. It all they are shown/told.

Also I think Japanese really like EVERYTHING being laid out for them, do this, do that, don't do that, watch this, vote for this..................I don't think many here want to HAVE to make many of their own choices & that a great many would prefer to have a ""supreme"" leader rather than have to deal with democracy.

8 ( +11 / -3 )

i do not watch anymore because of sanma. i hate him

5 ( +5 / -0 )

A good article. Yes there are plenty of positives, it could be worse. But ultimately most of it is the inane, lowest common denominator (though admittedly that might be fractionally higher than the UK and US, although the fact that most viewers are over 60 doesn't help much) drivel you get in every country. I certainly don't think things are worse than other countries and dramas and children's TV in Japan are pretty good, albeit we don't have the flashy dramas here you see in the US.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

"GW: I don't think many here want to HAVE to make many of their own choices & that a great many would prefer to have a ""supreme"" leader rather than have to deal with democracy."

They just had an election. Are you in touch with reality?

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

I have been unfortunately had the pleasure of watching JTV, its not good is it? There is one guy on NHK who i dislike immensely he's on a cooking program and the lady who cooks come up with nice tasty meals, BUT get rid of him as he's just repeats every thing that she says!! like, he's a dam parrot! she says,"lets put the chicken in the bowl with these herbs and some salt"....etc etc... then he has to repeat it, Yes, "lets put the chicken in the bowl".......WHY??? i can see that she's put the chicken in the bowl, this so condescending, its infuriating, its belittling! don't you think that we can't see whats she's doing!!! Grrrrr! Japanese TV producers, PLEASE come to the UK and see how good TV programs are made and then you might see the errors of your ways. take a look at Sir David attenboughs "Blue planet" and other programs like this,The Living Planet (1984) The First Eden: The Mediterranean World and Man (1987) The Atlas of the Living World (1989) The Trials of Life (1990) The Private Life of Plants (1994) The Life of Birds (1998) The Life of Mammals to name but a few.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Leave it turned off?

4 ( +4 / -0 )

JTV? I call it Food Porn.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

oh thank god for the internet and cable, I think I would have gone insane long ago if I was only entertained by J TV

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Funny. So you missed .... Also, you missed .... and a whole host of other great writers. Well done.

As I said, I'm a radio guy. Radio doesn't tie you down the way TV does. I can and do listen to Radio 4 for hours on end especially when I'm cycling (but only on cycle paths, too distracting in traffic). I much prefer radio drama to tv drama. Same for comedy.

I was in hog heaven when I discovered that the BBC still does real radio drama although I never got into the Archers the way some friends are.

Radio either live or in the form of podcasts is also perfect for the hours I spend on the bus traveling between Sheffield and Oxford or Sheffield and London. I've tried watching watching documentaries on my laptop. I get motion sick if I do.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

bullfighter: "I was in hog heaven when I discovered that the BBC still does real radio drama although I never got into the Archers the way some friends are."

Used to listen to BBC dramas and am glad to hear they're still doing it. Maybe I'll have to get back into it -- though I don't date listen to anything but my surroundings when biking... too many crazies around, even on the biking paths here.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I lived in Japan (Tokyo, Obihiro, Sapporo) from 1971 to 2002. In reading over the article and the responding letters, I see that Japanese television has not changed much at all since I left Japan, or from 1971, for that matter. According to the letters, Beat Takeshi and Sanma are still as prevalent and as annoying as they were 40 years ago. Those appearing in the studios still radiate the annoying "Aren't we cute and witty?" chuckles. The background noises such as "EEEEEehh?" or "Heeeeeeh?" are still there.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

According to some Japanese people I know, the Japanese TV turned into what Jpop music turned into during the last few years with the AKBs and alike, the key is cheap to made and easy to replace by another & similar content. Before people were striving for quality, nowadays, they throw as much as possible and watch for what does stick to the wall....

4 ( +4 / -0 )

I think the best thing you can say about Japanese TV is that it does manage to entertain some people some of the time, but the production values and quality have to be among the worst in the world.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

One of the most amazingly stupid programmes I think I have ever seen anywhere was on NHK. It was a series about housework. It must have been produced with the brain dead in mind. The issue I watched was a full 30 minutes, with no commercial breaks on "how to clean a chair." I couldn't believe it. It was completely serious! It was so bad that I had to watch it through to the end. It wasn't as if there were any useful tricks or techniques to learn. It was just the painfully obvious steps of cleaning a chair.

On the other hand, there have been some good programmes. Sazae-san was very useful when I was struggling to learn Japanese. The "Iron Chef" series were also very good. But, sadly, these were as diamonds in a cow pat.

Whenever I am forced to watch, because the TV is on in a hospital waiting room or restaurant, it just seems to be the same old people, the psychotic Beat Takeshi, that idiot Sanma and a few pet gaijin, complete with canned laughter.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

@BertieWooster

Thanks for that!

That would make for an interesting thread... the worst programs you have ever seen on Japanese TV.

One that springs to mind for me is this...

As part of a stupid variety show (or something) they decided to "Find out the reaction of a husband when his wife who never farts actually does a fart".

So they found some poor wife "who never farts" and fed her baked beans or something and then set up hidden cameras for when hubby came home and then had her do a fart in front of him.

This was on at about 7pm in the evening... nice and educational for all the school kids watching.

The reason I remembered it was the comment by somebody above:

I’m quite surprised by the hostility of the posters because I had thought they were a bit more sophisticated to appreciate the textured differences between cultures

As I tried to appreciate "the textured differences between cultures", I remembered the wife farting.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

@ Lloyd Weems

Not to mention all the sport; in the past month alone: Euro 2016 football; Wimbledon; The Open golf; F1, and probably loads more I've forgotten after this early summer in lager-drenched, remote-controlled, sofa heaven. And the sports coverage covers ALL the action; it's not just focussed on participants of one nationality! Know wot I mean, like?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Only thing I watch is baseball and to be frank, it's more or less white noise in the background of my PC while I do something else.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I predicted there would be one poster claiming to speak better Japanese than the rest of us hence why THEY can understand it and we plebs can't. There would also be one poster claiming we are all cultural imperialists

that's what JT is all about, not including the Japanese nationals, there are two types of gaijin on JT, those that have been assimilated, those that refuse assimilation but have hight tolerance levels to handle all the petty BS (including J TV when required) the rest go home.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Maybe I'll have to get back into it -- though I don't date listen to anything but my surroundings when biking... too many crazies around, even on the biking paths here.

I go from Oji to Shinrin-koen every so often. I follow the Arakawa course. I don't put the radio on until I'm some kilometers up the course from Oji because of the cross traffic, especially kids going from sports fields to rest areas on the embankment. The Tamagawa course is also dangerous in spots but I like to cycle in the winter and the cold means that the courses are nearly deserted at least on weekdays.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Radio either live or in the form of podcasts is also perfect for the hours I spend on the bus traveling between Sheffield and Oxford or Sheffield and London. I've tried watching watching documentaries on my laptop. I get motion sick if I do.

Fair enough, I can't watch anything on the laptop while traveling either. BBC radio drama is fantastic and they seem to cover pretty much everything you could possibly want to hear. But still, there is some great ( and serious ) drama on the BBC that also has a popular audience. You can learn so much about post war Britain by watching Our Friends In The North or Boys From The Blackstuff. I'd be interested in any Japanese dramas that have had a similar impact but I don't know of any...

4 ( +4 / -0 )

I don't really mind Japanese TV... some of the dramas are engaging, the evening game shows are okay to unwind to, and there are some interesting scavenger/treasure hunt programmes that run for an hour or so.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

drives me crazy.....people shouting....and food.....

2 ( +2 / -0 )

chowaruoyaji,

It would make an interesting thread.

There have been some lulus.

There was the 625th anniversary of Naruhodo the World. I thought that was quite amazing. They had TV programmes even before TV!

Actually, Naruhodo the World and Sekkai Marugoto How Much were quite instrumental in educating the Japanese public about other countries. Before these programmes, you would ask a question like, "What's the capital of the U.S.A?" and get answers like, "Los Angeles!"

The NHK "educational" programmes (I use the word advisedly) were a good source of amusement. For NHK, humour in any form will probably always remain a mystery. Not wishing to appear racialist, the same could be said (on a general basis) of Germany. Join these together and you have something excruciating.

One December there was a skit on a "Lets learn German" NHK programme.

The whole family sat down to dinner. The turkey was on the table. The Xmas lights were on and there was "Oh Tannenbaum" playing in the background. Mum and the kids were there waiting. Someone was missing.

One of the kids asked, "Wo ist Vatti?" (Where's dad?), to which the general answer was, "Ich weiss nicht," "Mir auch," etc. Then the door opened and Santa walked in, sat down and there was general chat about presents and so on.

Then Santa kind of smirked, put his hand to his face and pulled off his false beard.

"Ah!" cried the kids, "Hier ist Vatti!"

Someone got money for writing that skit!

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Lloyd WeemsJUL. 19, 2016 - 09:42AM JST

But still, there is some great ( and serious ) drama on the BBC that also has a popular audience. You can learn so much about post war Britain by watching Our Friends In The North or Boys From The Blackstuff. I'd be interested in any Japanese dramas that have had a similar impact but I don't know of any...

Of course not, no one wants to make anything exceptional. They would be setting a higher standard that everyone else would feel obliged to try to live up to and that would just be far too much trouble. I don't think they really want to have an impact, either - providing cheap, bland entertainment that keeps the advertisers happy seems to be the name of the game here.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

TV is pretty bad almost all over the world.

I've seen a few good shows on JTV but they do seem to be the exception.

I really liked the fictional drama about JAXA.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I was talking to a kindergarden owner about Japanese TV last week. It occur to me that it's a bit like a class room. Sensei teaches you something and then the "students" react. The "cool kids" say something in "class" and everyone laughs. Personally I find this form of television very irritating. When my partner watches it, I start reading a book. Win win.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I wish the ratio of variety programs to dramas on Japanese TV could be reversed, i.e. more dramas and fewer variety programs. As saccharine sweet and melodramatic as TV dramas in Japan can be, I've always found it vastly preferable to watch a Japanese celebrity playing a role in a drama as opposed to playing a role on some variety program (they're playing roles in both--obviously Becky isn't like that in real life). I've watched all or parts of some worthwhile Japanese dramas over the years--Aoi Tori, Hitotsu no Yane no Shita, and Double Score come to mind. And some genuinely good actors (meaning not just celebrities) have appeared on Japanese dramas--Toyokawa Etsushi and Nagasaku Hiromi to name but two.

I sense that Japanese TV devotes fewer hours to home-grown dramas than was once the case. Perhaps the overwhelming popularity of Korean dramas caused Japanese networks to throw in the towel and stick to the cheaply produced variety programs as their main source of revenue. Too bad.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I agree that there is a lot of garbage on Japanese TV, and the scripted overreactions/accidents of "talents"/comedians especially get on my nerves, but there are also a few gems out there:

・水曜日のダウンタウン (Suiyoubi no Downtown) - probably my favourite. Often funny, irreverent, and original. ・超絶 凄ワザ (Chouzetsu Sugu Waza) - for people interested in science this show is interesting and educational. They pit two experts/teams on a specific topic against each other to see who can build the better . No talents (except the hosts), just regular people actually competing against each other. ・アメトーク (Ameto-ku) - very hit or miss, but sometimes can be genuinely funny if the topic and comedians are a good selection.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I think the biggest differance is that Japanese TV tells is viewers how to feel via facial expressions and gestures on the face of people eating and in the waipu (Atilla above) wheras Western TV tries to tell is views how to think via phonemes. The torrential canned laughter made watching UK TV impossible. https://www.flickr.com/photos/nihonbunka/10569777855/ Anytime I think something is better in my culture than another, I try to stop myself and look for the differences.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

The best skit I remember from Japanese television (in the mid 1980s) had Shimura Ken as an old man asking where his wife was. His middle-aged son and his wife responded with, "Don't you remember? She died." Shimura Ken as the old men asked when that had happened. They told him obaasan had died quite a while ago and then tried to be as gentle as possible in telling the old man that he was senile ("boke"). This interaction went on for quite a while until they had him convinced that he had become senile in not knowing that his beloved wife had died quite a while ago. Then, the joke played on the old man became evident when the old man's wife walked in. "I thought you had died!" Shimura Ken as the old man exclaimed. "Oh, Papa, you are so boke!" The most tasteless thing I ever saw on Japanese TV was broadcast when I was in the hospital (I would have changed the channel if I had been at home) with a bunch of other patients. It was a kind of candid camera affair that involved a guy who was enticed into a hotel room by one of the young ladies in a nightclub. What he didn't know was that his wife was watching all this on closed circuit television. When he got into the hotel room, he sat on the bed removing his clothes while the young lady went into the bathroom to "slip into something more comfortable." As he sat on the bed in delightful anticipation, he pulled open his jockey shorts and checked himself out. Then, "the woman" came out of the bathroom in a bathrobe and rubbing a bath towel over her head as if she had just taken a shower. When she removed the bath towel, surprise, surprise! it was his wife.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@battambangbound The latter, 'tasteless' candid camera affair is or was a regular, weekly, staple of the comedian Atsushi, of the duo London Boots, in thrirs show London Hearts. In similar such segments even famous persons, including Atsushi's partner, were similarly entrapped on camera. I found it so real and osiful that it was difficult to watch but at yhe sane time excellent television. It always ended with the guy apologising and seemingly regretting his lapse. Thete was also a similar segment in which the number of times a husband stole a glimpse of a scantily clad flirtatiuo woma were counted agsin via candid/hidden camera again by the wife. I think the sjow may have made me a better person, less likely to be unfaithful. I used to descrube London Hearts as my favourite show.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I don't watch a great deal of TV. I like ItteQ and anything with Downtown. I'm glad Japan doesn't have those shows where couples compete to build houses or Big Brother.I would imagine many programs might seem bad anywhere if you don't really understand the language or culture.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Turn it off. You're not going to miss it. So many better things to be doing and learning. Even getting enough sleep

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Funny thing is we hate it here and then go back to our homeland and people rave about the anime, Iron Chef, and Ninja Warrior.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I was watching some JTV on youtube the other week, and it was a game show where two attractive woman in short skirts were playing a game of twister, whilst they were playing the camera man was filming them, the whole point of the game was not to show there knickers off, we'll that didn't happen! this sort of game show just would not get any air time in the UK and I am sure it wouldn't abroad. should these types of games shows still be transmitted in the 21 century? but I do watch you tube for the funny Japanese adverts they are so bad it make them good, if you know what I mean! they are so funny.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Login to leave a comment

Facebook users

Use your Facebook account to login or register with JapanToday. By doing so, you will also receive an email inviting you to receive our news alerts.

Facebook Connect

Login with your JapanToday account

User registration

Articles, Offers & Useful Resources

A mix of what's trending on our other sites