Usually I don’t watch Japanese TV and the reason for this is not because I don’t understand it but more to do with what they air. On every channel you will find three types of programs and they are eating, gameshows or drama.
Now the eating can drive you nuts because they have these talento walk around a part of Tokyo or Osaka and go to restaurants that they only like. Once they are inside they order a dish that is so common that you can buy at any number of supermarkets, another restaurant or combini. Now when they scream “OOOOISHIIIIIII” or “UUUUUMMMMMAAAAAAAAIIIIIIIIIII” before the food has even touched their tongues it is like they have never eaten Sushi before. Just this drives me nuts but on a positive note these restaurants get the free advertisement.
On to the gameshows they have the same talanto on every channel doing some type of game. Now the shows can differ but 80% of the time it’s the same as on another channel. Switch from let’s say channel 5 to channel 8 and you will have the same talanto with maybe a few different faces in the crowd.
Now there is maybe one show that I don’t mind watching (I have forgotten the name of it, perhaps G20?) the aim of the show is to have 20 foreign talanto who will one by one big up or down grade their countries. For example they will rank a topic of let’s say the top countries that have spooky traditions (a topic from a Halloween airing) now they will rank the countries from only the top 5 and then they will place where Japan ranks. Next, one by one they go through the top ones and now they have the chance to explain how great or bizarre their traditions appear. They might even pick out a country that is so low on the ranking table but has the worst or strangest tradition out of the whole group. This can be fun or cringe worthy to watch sometimes.
There is another TV program that airs a lot, again can’t remember the name, but it has two types of topics; 1) how a Japanese women fares living and married in another country. They will visit these countries and meet the wives and they watch them for a day or two and compare their lives if they were living in Japan. If they do something that is way different to what a Japanese wife does in Japan the whole cast will go nuts never understanding that the wife lives in a foreign country and is married to a national of that country.
Now the other is some type of reality story which can be from mass killings or close to death stories. As for the killing stories these seem to be around what has just happened in Japan, ie; a young secondary school student goes about chopping up her classmate to see what it was like type of horror news story. They will go around the world to find similar or worse cases that have happened. Now I don’t know why they do this but I have a feeling, could be wrong, but it’s to say hey we have strange killings here in Japan but it’s worse out there in the world. Also I have noticed that most of the stories they find that are similar are from the USA in the 80s or 90s.
Now the opposite is with a foreigner who has suffered from a tragic accident and has survived against the odds and again after watching the program they will go to a case that is similar to someone who is suffering in Japan. Nothing wrong with this program and sometimes can be very moving.
Last is the dramas and these can be even worse than the eating or reality programs because they are usually these types; Crime, Doctor/Hospital, Samurai or Yakuza. The stories can range from interesting to what the hell is this! But the problem about these programs is that once one series finishes another so similar takes its place and the worse or good point is that it would be filled with the same actors. Sometimes the story line is so strange I have found myself screaming at the TV because the plot doesnt make sense.
Now that’s why I don’t watch Japanese TV on a regular bases and why I stick to reading a book or using the computer.
Now here is my defence card; Yes there are programs that are as mind numbing in the world and even worse than Japans but I live in Japan and have a wife who is Japanese that has been brought up on Japanese TV and its on in my house 24/7.