9.03.2008

Travel TV


Now that I've gotten on the subject of travel programs, I might as well come clean. The majority of TV programs that I watch in Japan are travelogues of some sort. In my previous post, I wrote about my fondness for "Weekend Cinderella." In fact, there are three other shows that I try to catch every week -- all of which involve travel, but are thematically very different. The best is "Sekai Ururun Taizaiki," which has been on TV for the last 13 years. The show has different celebrities go on a homestay for about a week in another country. Most of the time they have a goal to accomplish by the end of their stay, maybe walking a tightrope in a Korean acrobatic act or learning how sing to make a camel cry in Mongolia. Unfortunately, "Ururun" is going off the air this fall. That means I will have to be satisfied with the remaining travel programs.

"Sekai Fureai Aruki" is a really unusual show on NHK that features no visible host. Alternatively featuring a male or female narrator, the show is a virtual walk through various towns all over the globe. Most of the walk is shot in real time, and includes face-to-face exchanges with people randomly encountered on the streets and alleyways.
"AiNori" is the closest to US-style reality TV. It's similar to MTV's "Road Rules," where a small group of girls and guys travels in a van through different countries. The twist here is that they are trying to make a love connection, and they can only return to Japan once they successfully partner with someone of the opposite sex. Or until they "retire" from the show. I find the show odd in the sense that if I had a choice, I would choose to travel the world for as long as I could for free. To me, going home to Japan seems like losing rather than winning.

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