Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Project "X"

Tonight, in keeping with the rest of the un-welcome change that seems to be ever present these days, the NHK TV show "Project X" had its last broadcast.

Project X is a weekly documentary show on NHK that documents achievements by everyday Japanese, or groups of Japanese. Its been on a 6 year run which just happens to correspond to the length of time I've been here. So you'll forgive me if I take the show's cancellation as a bad omen.

The S.O. likes the show and she introduced me to it, because I liked the show's catchy theme song. Sung by Miyuki Nakajima (中島みゆきーさん)the song: Chijyo no Hoshii (地上の星、Star above the earth), is a great song and quite inspirational. You can download the song here.

Miyuki Nakajima

By the time it gets to the chorus (つばめよ高い空から教えてよ 地上の星を!Swallow (as in bird) from the sky high above, teach me, star above the ground) your feet are tapping and you are all pumped up. The ending tune ( also by Ms Nakajima) , Headlight Tailight is pretty good and a sad, but hopeful tune. (ヘードライート、タイールライート、 旅は まだ終わらない、Headlight, tailight, the journey is still not over) .

Its a little above my comprehension level (a lot actually) in Japanese, so I have to stay glued to the S.O. and my electronic dictionary to understand it all. Nonetheless, the subjects are all folks who otherwise would get short shrift in the history books. They put the show together in an interesting fashion and try, as best they can to turn these construction and other achievements into something very dramatic. Oftentimes they succeed, mainly due to the narration of Tomoru Taguchi(田口トモラル), personal interviews and flashbacks, as well as clever use of popular background music, much of it from American movies. Some examples of the stories they told are of the man who invented VHS tape for JVC, the struggle to build the underwater tunnel between Honshu and Hokkaido, the story of a famous chef at the Imperial Hotel, the first Japanese to get to the South Pole and the struggles Mazda had to win on the racing circuit. As you can guess its focused on Japanese progress and development since the war. I think that is the shows underlying message, kind of parochial: that Japan has hope for the future and ordinary Japanese are accomplishing great things.

The program has been broadcast in 18 countries in the native language including Iraq, garnering the following comment from the Japanese foreign minister:
The "Project X" series, which has been aired by 23 TV stations in 18 countries, has been very well received. It is expected that the Japanese businessmen depicted in the program, who succeed in their projects by overcoming difficulties, will encourage the people of Iraq who are putting effort into the reconstruction of the nation.

Somehow I doubt that the new show, Professionals: Their Style will be the same.

In the meanwhile, back to work on getting my show renewed for another season! More to follow. Stay tuned to this blog for all the latest developments.................


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