Sunday, June 14, 2009

Sanma's SUPER Karakuri TV, and Japanese relationships as told by "famous" wives

So I'm not much of a fan of Japanese tv, but one show that I do watch at least semi-regularly is Sanma's SUPER (!!!) Karakuri TV. The host, Sanma, is one of Japan's most famous comedians, and known for having extraordinarily big teeth... he's ok (See right). They of course have the obligatory "talento" panel gathered to comment about things, but have some funny stuff on there using actual people, not tv personalities. They've also had a bunch of foreign regulars over the years, including Thane Camus, Bobby Olugun and Robert Baldwin. In the past they've had stuff like the foreigner Japanese quizzes with "Japan King" Robert Baldwin, the Hiroshima-born Canadian that knows entirely too much about Japan, or they'll have quizzes with 3 old guys (note: old people that don't care anymore and will say absolutely anything), or my all-time favorite when they used to have the drunk salarymen quizzes where they'd ask a drunk guy on his way home from a drinking party some question and then let him use a public phone to call whoever he wanted to try and find out the answer, often to hilarious result.

Anyway I watched it tonight (7pm Sundays and on channel 6 in Tokyo, btw), and afterwards there was a "special" (considering every other week is a special, it has about as much meaning as them calling the tv-personalities "talent") with five famous wives asking them about their spouses, and I thought it might be a small window into Japanese relationships so I left it on... it wasn't interesting enough to receive my undivided attention, but here's what I remember of it.

So the 5 wives were Junko Akimoto (60-something year old singer), Akira Hokuto (female pro-wrestler... scarily mannish), Izumi Ogami (announcer and voice actor), Nozomi Tsuji (overly cutesy former Morning Musume singer) and Miki Fujimoto (pretty hot former Morning Musume singer).

They talked about a few topics, the first of which I remember the discussion being about married finances. It's fairly well-known that the wife holds the purse strings in most households in Japan, at least traditionally. Miki-chan was the newlywed (or rather will be next month), and was talking about them each keeping their own finances, which most of the other women said was unrealistic as time goes on, especially after kids. I'd say that's a fair assessment, but not reason enough for me to hand over my entire paycheck to the wife every month and have her give me a monthly allowance. Everyone was shocked, or maybe disappointed would be a better description, at one of the wives when she said that she's the one that gets an allowance. I've heard from several former co-workers that they indeed let their wives control the money... they say they don't have time to worry about bills, supposedly because they are too busy working absurd hours at the office or something. I don't see why Japanese guys are so stereotypically bad with money though... one of the wives said her hubby wastes all kinds of money on an aquarium and fish, and another said her hubby wastes all kinds of money on a car (I could totally see that one, actually).

The other question I remember them asking was "your trick to a healthy relationship." First up was Maki-chan who said she mails her fiance about 10 times daily, for stuff like when she wakes up or telling him where she's going or whatever, and that he's always good about responding. I believe in communication, but 10x/day... wow. She got lots of "he~~~s" from that one. I agree with the overall concept of keeping in touch as much as possible and all though, which the other guests seemed to think was unrealistic.

Next up was Nozomi-chan, who said they kiss everyday, which shocked everyone. Examples she gave were a good morning kiss, a goodbye kiss before going to work, a kiss when you get home and before you go to sleep - nothing that odd. The host's comment was that that sounds really stupid and unnecessary, and pretty much everyone (except Maki, bless her heart) agreed that keeping that up was just about impossible. To me it's not surprising to hear them say that with all the talk you hear about sexless marriages and married couples sleeping in separate beds and all, but disappointing nonetheless.

Well ok, I guess it wasn't really that informative to me at least, but it did reaffirm a few ideas I have about relationships in Japan, and maybe it'll give you a better idea of things. If you kiss someone every day and sleep in the same bed then you are living a miracle to them... I guess extremely low standards are good in that they make it easy to be impressed, but it's still hard for me to believe this kind of stuff is considered standard for the state of relationships in Japan. Sorta depressing, no?

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