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What's On TV?

It seems that many Japanese people, especially those who haven't yet traveled abroad, are curious about the differences between Japan and America. Obviously, there are simply too many to discuss in a single blog entry, so I'd like to talk about one of the differences that is interesting to me.

沢山の日本人、特に海外に行ったことがない方は日本とアメリカの違いについて気になっているらしいです。もちろん、一つのブログエントリーですべての違いについて語るには多すぎるけど、自分に興味深い一つの事について書かせていただきます。


As someone who watches a lot of Japanese TV, specifically comedy and variety shows, I'm quite familiar with the ways in which American and Japanese TV differ. Since I don't own a TV, I often watch rebroadcasts of my favorite shows on a site called tver.jp. Simply scrolling through the various TV shows, the first obvious difference becomes apparent. The sets of Japanese TV shows are incredibly lavish, colorful, and intricate. While watching a show, I often find myself looking at the set and wondering how long it took to construct it. To the contrary, American TV show sets tend to be quite subdued. Late night talk shows, for example, tend to have a simple cityscape in the background.


日本のテレビ番組、特にバラエティとお笑いをよく見る人として、アメリカのテレビ番組とどう違うかについてわりと詳しいと思います。テレビを持っていないので、tver.jpというサイトで好きな番組の再放送を見ます。サイトをスクロールするだけで、一つの違いが明らかに分かってきます。バラエティ番組の背景がかなり盛大でカラフルで細かいです。見ながら、背景をよくみて、創造するのがどれくらいかかったかなと思う時が多いです。一方では、アメリカの番組の背景がなかなか地味です。たとえば、深夜のトークショーの背景は普通に単純な都市の景観だけです。


Japanese TV shows also reveal an aspect of Japanese culture that is quite well-known: that Japan is a group-oriented society. While there are a few daytime talk shows in America with more than one host, almost all American TV shows have a single host, and they usually speak with their guests one-on-one. Japanese TV shows on the other hand, almost always feature at least two, if not three or four hosts, who are often joined by multiple guests and commentators.


日本は集団志向だというよく知られている側面も日本のテレビ番組が表します。アメリカでは、司会者が一人以上の番組がいくつかありますが、ほとんどの番組は司会者が一人しかいなくて、そしてゲストが一人一人出演し、マンツーマンで会談する事が普通です。一方では、日本の番組は、少なくとも二人の司会者がいて、そしてゲストや評論家も数人いるのが結構多いです。


Also quite different from America is the content of the programming. The first time I realized how unique Japanese TV shows were was in the summer of 2002. I was watching TV one night at my host family's house in Gifu. On the show, mothers were competing with their daughters-in-law to see who understood their sons/husbands preferences best. How they did it, though, was quite interesting. The mothers and daughters-in-law each bought a pair of underwear. When the husbands went to take a shower, their wives would put both pairs of underwear by the shower door, and when their husbands came out of the shower, they would choose a pair. So whether it was the mother or the daughter-in-law who knew their son/husband the best was based on whose underwear the man chose. That I still remember that episode nearly 20 years later is a testament to how interesting it was.

なお、番組の内容もアメリカとかなり異なっています。日本の番組がどれほどユニークか初めて気づいたのは、2002年の真夏でした。ある日、岐阜県に住んでいるホストファミリーの家でテレビを見ていました。番組には、お義母さん達と嫁達はどちらが息子または旦那さんのこだわりにもっと詳しいかという戦いをしていました。でもどうやってそれを確認したかはとっても面白かったです。お義母さん達と嫁達がそれぞれメンズトランクスを一枚買って、そして旦那さんがお風呂に入った時、嫁がドアの外に自分で買った物もお義母さんの買った物も置いておきました。旦那さんがお風呂上がったら、その二枚の中から選びました。それで、旦那さんのこだわりを深く知っていたのはお義母さんか嫁かは、どの下着が選ばれたかに基づきました。約20年後にそのエピソードを覚えている事はそれの面白さの証明なのです。


Because of Japan's rote-learning education system, it's often said that Japanese people are lacking in creativity compared to Westerners. However, watching Japanese TV has shown me that Japanese people are actually incredibly creative and possess a unique way of thinking about the world. When I was young, my parents used to tell me that watching too much TV would rot my brain. To some extent, that's true. But when trying to understand the language and culture of a foreign country, I can say based on my own experience that TV can be an invaluable tool for learning.

暗記学習のせいで、西洋人と比べたら、日本人が想像力に欠けているとよく言われます。ただ、よく日本のテレビを見る事で、実は日本人はかなりクリエイティブで独特な世界観を持っていると気づきました。僕は子供の時に、テレビを見すぎたら脳が腐っちゃうと親がよく言っていました。それが全くないわけではありませんが、自分の経験によっては外国の国語や文化を理解できるためにテレビが多いに役立つ物だと言えます。


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