I have had an obsession with Japanese game shows right from when I first saw Japanese Endurance clips on Clive James’s telelvision programme during the eighties. My Dad and I would quite literally be in tears laughing at the participants trying to endure the most crazy tasks; a personal favourite was a guy who had to go through a tunnel and have live eels and other sea-creatures dropped on him. The chap in question gave the obligatory salute and yell, dive into the tunnel, only to then suddenly come shooting out seconds later with an octopus wrapped around his arm (it was clearly biting him).
The very old gameshow ‘Takeshi’s Castle’ also provided Dad and I with a lot of laughs thanks to re-runs on Challenge TV. It’s a shame that we only get mainstream 80’s game shows rather than the modern mayhem I saw during my visit. Kid’s doing a morning aerobics workout with a power ranger was one in particularly that genuinely twisted my melon the first day I was in Tokyo.
I finally made it to Japan just over 3 years ago now and my most vivid memory is of me sitting bleary eyed in my hotel room watching various shows whilst extremely jetlagged only to be confronted by the most incredible sunrises. I think the beauty of Japanese telelvision is that you can pretty much figure out what’s going on without speaking the language, and it genuinely doesn’t matter how obscure or surreal the game itself actually is.
The clip below features a game where an extremely brave guy has to submerge his body in Onsen (Japanese hot public baths/springs) grade waters (temperatures around 50oC/120oF) in order to score points. The point keeper is a scantily clad Japanese girl who has to bounce up and down on the point scoring button in her bikini. In reflection I always found these game shows funny because of my black sense of humour (laughing at the discomfort of others is still a bit of a vice of mine), but I’ve come to very much appreciate the game shows epitomisation of the Japanese people’s tendancy to ‘Get up and have a go’; something I have a profound respect for. Still, this is bloody funny?