Archive for June, 2007

Ainori #364

Thursday, June 28th, 2007

Ainori is a popular reality show in Japan, aired on Fuji TV on Monday nights at 23:00.

In August 2005, I discovered that Ainori was not only popular in Japan, but also all over the world thanks to Bit Torrent technology. I decided to write a summary of each episode, and do a translation of the weekly photo captions from the official site. What do I get out of this? I get to improve my Japanese, I get more traffic to my blog, but above all, I get the satisfaction of knowing many non-Japanese speakers all over the world can appreciate a truly unique reality show. Enjoy, and don’t hesitate to post any comments or questions you may have.

Ainori’s official homepage (Japanese only).


new.gif righ-red_e0.gif Ex-participants’ blogs
(Japanese only)
JUST ADDED YANKUMI’S BLOG
left-red_e0.gifnew.gif

Ainori’s BT downloads available @ D-Addicts

Streaming videos of Ainori are available on youtube.com.


Ainori #364

WARNING! THIS IS A SPOILER!

CURRENT SITUATION
participants20070618.jpg

This week, the group got to mingle with “politically-engineered” Venezuelan babes (no, I’m not kidding), they got to taste arepas, Neko and Hiderinko definitely fell for one another, Gurasan thought he had an encounter with fate, and things between Miyanee and Oga seemed to be going fine, until he performed a karate demonstration in a martial art school, with devastating results for Miyanee.

MISS VENEZUELA 2001~2006

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2001
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2002
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2003
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2004
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2005
missvenezuela2006.jpg
2006

Am I gonna have to talk about hot Venezuelan babes? Aw, well, only for Ainori ;-) So the group was in Caracas, and they noticed that there was an unusually high proportion of beauties walking all over the place (I’ve been to Caracas, and it’s true – your eyes practically get tired from popping out all the time!). I never thought about it much, and I couldn’t verify the fact for sure, but apparently the reason why there are so many babes in Venezuela is actually the result of careful planning. “WTF?”, I hear you say? Well, it seems sometime in the 1950’s the Venezuelan government was looking for a way to increase the number of tourists coming from Europe. So some guy proposed that increasing the number of beauties would attract more tourists, and it soon became national policy. In order to do that, national institutions for models and esthetics were opened, and government sponsored beauty pageants were implemented even in elementary and junior high schools. As a result, Venezuela became a babes paradise, and has won the most titles in the Big Four Pageants (Miss Earth, Miss International, Miss World & Miss Universe), although Ainori only included three, excluding Miss Earth. The result is still the same, Venezuela has won the most titles. Wow, talk about political planning. Anyway, the group got to visit one of those babes school (looked liked it was a modelling school), and the boys especially really seemed to enjoy it.

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“Ooooooh”


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hiderinko.jpg

Neko was on the offensive again, inviting Hiderinko for a talk, again. She started by saying how she wanted to visit Shikoku (Hiderinko’s native island), and try its most famous product, udon, but was complaining about how far it was from Kanagawa, her own prefecture. She then started saying how she wanted to take him to Yokohama’s Chinatown to eat some nikuman and drink tapioca juice. As she started saying how they could walk towards Yamashita Park and stop for confectionary, Hiderinko pointed out she was talking about food only. She started laughing and admitted her love of food. In her diary, she wrote that her present goal was to get Hiderinko to like her.

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From Neko’s diary: “My goal now is to get Hiderinko to like me!!”

Wow, talk about being straightforward. She was practically planning a date. She couldn’t have been more obvious.

And here is a scoop: That night when Hiderinko went to the staff’s room, he told them how he thought Neko was the best (among the girls?) in character and appearance. He then said that he didn’t have to look anywhere else, and that he didn’t have much time anyway. No time? Right. Hiderinko is one of those participants who join Ainori for a predetermined amount of time, generally because of work. In his case, he would stay on Ainori for one country only (mmmh, is it a coincidence that Sanchan dropped out JUST before they moved to Venezuela?). He then told the staff he was ready to go for the “quickest couple” record.

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Nobody can put out the flames of that love!

I’d call that the flames of pure madness! Is he insane? Are THEY insane? She loves him because he pays for the National Pension Fund and makes money, and he loves her because… she seems like a nice, cute girl who likes food and he’s out of time, so what the hell? I mean, seriously, how long have they known each other, a week, tops? I say they really shouldn’t accept participants who can’t stay for at least two or three months, otherwise we’ll keep seeing guys and girls rushing into relationships based on time rather than feelings. Besides, I don’t remember seeing a revolving door on the Love Bus. Aw, well, if they go back to Japan together and can make it as a couple, I’ll be happy for them, but chances are one of them will have skeletons in his/her closet that the other won’t like at all. Remember how Neko made a 180 on Gurasan?


Gurasan

Since he admitted to Neko he had no intention to pay for the National Pension Fund, Gurasan had apparently been spending a lot of time by himself. Ainori’s formula being based on an odd number of participants indeed usually calls for someone to be left alone while others pair up when they have free time. So Gurasan had time to mingle with the natives, polishing his Spanish skills (looks like he actually made a lot of progress, too). The day before Oga made his karate demonstration, the group was coming back to the Love Bus, where a Venezuelan babe was talking with the driver. When Moriken said “How cute” in Spanish, she replied in Japanese:”Who are you talking about?”. To everyone’s surprise (including mine), the girl, called Saeli, had spent three years studying at Ikue Senior High School right here in Sendai (dudes, it’s so close it could have been my school!) as an exchange student playing volleyball. As such, she used to watch Ainori and was delighted to meet the participants. Asking if she could get on the Bus, the group agreed and soon they were on their merry way.

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“Can I get a ride?” “Sure. Sure”

Once on the bus, the girl started explaining that the first word she’d learn upon coming to Japan was “kimoi” (short for “kimochi warui”, which means “disgusting”, “sickening” or “revolting”), and that she kept saying it all the time, not knowing what it really meant. As they were all having fun, Moriken and Gurasan started saying that it was great she wasn’t wearing a bra, and Saeli laughing, asked them what they were looking at. Everybody was having a great time with her, and soon it became obvious that Gurasan had a thing for her. So he told her “Muy bonita” (”you’re very cute” in Spanish), and she asked him where he had learned his Spanish. Gurasan said a few more things in Spanish, and later admitted that it had been 4 or 5 years since he had felt this way, convinced that it was fate. However, about 30 minutes later, the girl suddenly got off the bus, and it became apparent that she had only hitched a ride to her university.

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“Here we are” “?”

Later that night, Gurasan went to the staff’s room, and asked them if he couldn’t send a letter or give a phone call to Saeli. Poor Gurasan. In the past, there were a couple of cases where a Japanese-speaking local had got on the bus for a few days, and I guess that’s what Gurasan was expecting. A Japanese-speaking Venezuelan babe, him being interested in learning Spanish, I’m sure it was all falling into place in his mind. But when he asked the staff about contacting her, they never gave a definite answer, as he finished his sentence saying that it wouldn’t be possible. Who knows, maybe the staff will secretly contact Saeli so she can resurface later? Now that would be great! :-)

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“A letter, or a phone call would be impossible… impossible, right?”



Miyanee

Oga

Existential crisis, anyone? It seems Miyanee had some sort of an epiphany about how insignificant she was and how meaningless her life had been, eeer, that is, compared to Mr. Perfect, Oga the Great.

But let me start from the beginning. Everything seemed to be going fine, with Miyanee and Oga sitting together. As she kept throwing rocks, Oga asked her what was up with that, and she replied that she liked such moments. Oga pointed out that she seemed restless, and she told him she felt excited. Then Oga said he tended to be daydreaming when he was with her, which slightly insulted Miyanee. She told him to be more talkative, and more considerate. But then she started throwing rocks again, telling him that it was ok to be daydreaming. Just two happy campers hanging out, spending time together doing nothing. Sounds like something everybody needs once in a while…

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And then, all hell broke loose. The next day, the group got to visit a karate dojo, where as a national champion (no shit, he won all national competitions at elementary, junior and senior high school level), Oga was naturally asked to make a demonstration. When he came out wearing his kimono, the rest of the group – including Miyanee – was practically in awe, telling him how cool he looked. Oga had been trained by his father since he was a kid, and to Oga, karate was a way of life, and his father the most prominent figure he ever had. I have to say, I was a lot more impressed that the first time I saw him make some moves when he joined the group. His movements were as quick, precise and graceful as expected from a champion. Indeed, perhaps too perfect…

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On the way back from the dojo, Miyanee was conspicuously quiet and pensive. Back at the hotel, she took a shower, and when she came out of it, wrote as follows in her diary:

After taking a shower, I watched myself from head to toes.
31 years old!
I watched myself standing in a revealing nakedness.
I thought:”Is that me?”
Looking at myself from the outside, for the first time I thought:
“Is this what my face, my eyes, my nose look like?”
I’m a failure. What will happen from now on? Is my pride wounded?
Am I so awkward? It doesn’t make any sense. I can’t go on.

miyaneelookingatherself.jpg

Aaaaaargh! Miyanee was one of my favorite girls in a long time. No, not a girl, a mature, level-headed woman, and pretty at that. How can she let Oga’s flawlessness get to her like that? Because this is what it’s all about – she started comparing herself to him. Of all the participants, she’s the one who should have enough wisdom to understand that we can’t compare people, because we’re all different, and other people’s achievements cannot become criterions upon which we can base our lives. Besides, with the career she had, she has nothing to envy anyone. I suspect the problem comes from her feelings towards Oga, i.e. she probably thinks she can’t live up to his high standards and expectations. Poor girl. Now that Oga was finally coming around, I’m starting to wonder if she wouldn’t be better off with Moriken… Hang in there, girl!

Next week, the group will go through some sort of ritual, we’ll have yet another Ainori lesson about “The secret behind the huge gap between social classes being threatened” (oh, come on!), and something about Oga’s past will be revealed. I told you he must have some skeletons in his closet.

NEXT AINORI WILL BE AIRED ON JULY 9th 2007
HANG ON, PEOPLE!

NEXT ON AINORI


Ainori #363

Monday, June 25th, 2007

Ainori is a popular reality show in Japan, aired on Fuji TV on Monday nights at 23:00.

In August 2005, I discovered that Ainori was not only popular in Japan, but also all over the world thanks to Bit Torrent technology. I decided to write a summary of each episode, and do a translation of the weekly photo captions from the official site. What do I get out of this? I get to improve my Japanese, I get more traffic to my blog, but above all, I get the satisfaction of knowing many non-Japanese speakers all over the world can appreciate a truly unique reality show. Enjoy, and don’t hesitate to post any comments or questions you may have.

Ainori’s official homepage (Japanese only).


new.gif righ-red_e0.gif Ex-participants’ blogs
(Japanese only)
JUST ADDED YANKUMI’S BLOG
left-red_e0.gifnew.gif

Ainori’s BT downloads available @ D-Addicts

Streaming videos of Ainori are available on youtube.com.


Ainori #363

WARNING! THIS IS A SPOILER!

CURRENT SITUATION
participants20070618.jpg

Wow, this was a really busy episode. I’ll just summarize what happened in order here. Let’s see: the group tasted iguana, the relationship between Neko and Gurasan came to a full stop due to Neko’s obsession with the National Pension Fund, the group moved to Ainori’s 77th country and met the new male participant – who apparently caught the attention of the girls, Oga (inadvertently) showed interest for Miyanee for the first time, and the group got to the top of the Andes. Gee, it feels like two episodes compressed in one! But as usual, let me start by introducing the new guy.

hiderinko.jpg Kazuhide “Hiderinko” Oobayashi, from Kagawa Prefecture, is a 24-year-old firefighter. Apparently, he had that nickname back home, so he decided to keep it. Although his job is to put out fires, he wrote on his profile that he’d like to set someone’s heart on fire. Not only he’s not bad-looking at all, but as a firefighter (i.e. a civil servant), he’s the only male participant to have a steady job with benefits (a salary with regular raises, a good bonus and retirement fund). Right after he joined the group, the girls had an emergency meeting with Miyanee and Neko really excited about that fact. Indeed, the other boys’ financial situation doesn’t look bright: Moriken is a student working part-time, Oga is trying to make it in show business, and Guransan works in a yakiniku shop. Good looks and financial security? Mmmh, if this guy has a good personality, he might just have a head start over the others. We’ll have to wait and see. I wish him good luck on Ainori.

As one of their last meals in Suriname, the group got to taste iguana. They all thought it was chicken (probably tasted like it) until they were told what it was, and funnily enough, Hiroe showed an appalling lack of common knowledge when she asked if iguanas were birds. Hiroe, not everything that tastes like chicken has wings, you know…

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It was iguana meat


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Finally! After a couple of weeks of obvious mutual attraction, the producers let us hear Gurasan and Neko’s thoughts about each other. Gurasan had written in his diary that he was happy Neko had opened her heart to him by confiding, and that he wanted to be there for her. On the other hand, Neko had written that Gurasan had a nice face when he smiled, and that she liked people like that. I wonder why the producers kept that from us, as it would have built the tension until the fateful conversation they had this week. Yep, based on a slight difference in social values, everything suddenly came crashing down, and real fast at that.

Neko, as a major in Asian Issues, is apparently (and surprisingly, if you consider how the Japanese educational system works, i.e. it’s hell to get admitted, but once you’re in you can practically sleep your way through a degree) well aware of many problems in Asia. So they started talking about the National Pension Fund problem in Japan, which I will talk about rather in length, so please bear with me.

The National Pension Fund in Japan is problematic due to the growing aging population, who upon retirement get their pension, with fewer and fewer people in the work force who can pay for them (see: high dependency ratio). The bottom line is working people now pay more than a 100 000 yen (more than US 800) a year, without even knowing if the system will be able to provide for them upon retirement, not to mention horror stories about people whose payments weren’t recorded properly due to bureaucratic blunders, effectively meaning they lost the right to get their full pension. As a result, there is this vicious circle in which younger people, who don’t trust the system, simply refuse to pay out of fear the money will be lost, and choose to save money on their own for their old days. This means that even less money goes into the system, feeding more insecurity and accelerating its breakdown.

Now, people who have good paying jobs in Japan and can actually afford to pay for the National Pension Fund are mostly older people, who often keep working even after they should have retired, which means there are less steady jobs for the younger generation (mmmh, there’s this oh too familiar boomers VS Xers kind of ring to it, isn’t there?). To counter this problem, people can elect to postpone their National Pension Fund payments until their 30s, at which point the monthly premiums would be higher, but allegedly still affordable. Sounds pretty good on paper, except that in reality, a lot of people simply don’t want to pay even after getting a steady job for the above-mentioned reasons, and they can choose not to pay simply because that money is usually withdrawn from your bank account, IF you fill out the necessary papers for that, rather than being taken directly at the source. That is really incomprehensible, as income tax in Japan is taken from your salary before you get it, which means they could do the same thing with the National Pension Fund to alleviate the problem.

And here is where this social problem got in the way. Neko firmly believes that it is a social duty to pay for the National Pension Fund. You can imagine her surprise when Gurasan told her he had no intention to pay for it when the time comes. So they argued about it for a few minutes, and obviously their disagreement put something between them. That night, Neko went to visit the staff’s room, and told them how sensitive she thought the problem of the National Pension Fund was, and how she evaluated someone’s sense of values based on their opinion about it. She then explained how she felt uneasy about a man who thought like that, whether he could do his best when the time came to raise a family. She ended by saying she could never be with such an unreliable person.

I agree that a difference in values can be enough to break a relationship. but I think Neko shouldn’t have judged Gurasan so harshly without even trying to convince him. Everything was going so well between them, it’s just too bad that it ended on such a technicality. But hey, it’s not necessarily over yet. I’m sure they’ll have more conversations about that.

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Does the person important to you
pay for the National Pension Fund?


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So the group left Suriname and flew to Venezuela, Ainori’s 77th country. One of Venezuela’s major exportation being petroleum, fuel is dirt cheap at 5 yen (US 0.04) a litre, compared to 130~135 yen (a bit over US 1.00) in Japan. The day right after Hiderinko joined the group, Neko invited him for a talk, with the obvious goal of “testing” him. She started by saying she had a stiff and old mentality, that she thought a lot about the future, for example. When Hiderinko replied that it was natural, she suddenly told him how she thought the National Pension Fund was important, and how she couldn’t imagine someone actually not paying for it. He then explained that of course, he was paying for it, not only because as a civil servant he would get fired if he didn’t, but because he felt it was his responsibility as a Japanese citizen. Neko, exalted, immediately told him “That’s it, that’s it, you understand”. That night, she went to see the staff and giggling like a high school girl, she told them how she thought it was great they had similar views, especially about the National Pension Fund. I really wonder if she’s really an idealist with high social awareness, or just a witch after highly paid handsome men.

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Neko was about to go straight for Hiderinko,
the man who paid for the National Pension Fund


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Oga

That night, as the bus was driving around Mérida, Miyanee and Oga were sitting next to one another. Miyanee asked Oga what kind of personality he thought she had, but before he could answer, Miyanee got pulled into a conversation with the others (actually, it was more like they were bombarding her with questions), about airfare in various countries and how many / which languages one should ideally speak to become well-traveled. Indeed, as she is older than all the others, it seems they kind of look up to her and take her opinion very seriously. As Miyanee was trying her best to answer, Oga suddenly started laughing, and when Miyanee asked him what was up he replied that he thought she was kind.

The next day, the group was visiting a market place, and as they were taking a break, Miyanee started putting a misanga on Moriken’s wrist. Oga, who was sitting with Neko just behind them, couldn’t help but glance constantly, until he cut his conversation with Neko asking her if she’d like to go somewhere else.

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“Peek”

Obviously, Oga had plenty of time to think about him and Miyanee while they were having their cold spell, and I’m sure he suddenly got jealous when he saw her tying that misanga around Moriken’s wrist. At that moment, he probably realized that what he felt towards her was simply more than just friendship.

The next day, the group took the longest cable car ride in the world, all the way to the top of the Andes (bastards! I’m sooooo jealous ;-) ). Shortly after getting to the top, however, Miyanee started feeling dizzy, no doubt from the altitude. When she told Oga she felt sick, he took her aside and helped her sit down so she could rest. As she was trying to say something about the view, Oga told her she didn’t have to talk just for his benefit. Miyanee subsequently wrote in her diary that she felt she was in the hands of people who were kind to her when she was weak. After a few minutes, a sobbing Miyanee was telling Oga how moved she was by the beauty of nature. Oga later wrote in his diary how lovely he thought Miyanee was, being mature and kind.

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(The warm light of the Andes) was enveloping their hearts

That’s it, people, Oga is finally starting to give in. I don’t think he decided to lower his personal standards, but during the couple of days Miyanee and him were apart, I’m sure he reconsidered his opinion of her, i.e. that she was only human after all. When they finally started talking again, he probably realized how they went well together, and when he saw her giving the misanga to Moriken, his own feelings probably made him see what Miyanee meant to him. And Miyanee being so moved by the grandeur of nature might just have been the last straw… I really hope he’s coming around because I think they’d make a great couple.

Next week, it looks like Miyanee won’t be able to hide her being nervous towards Oga, Hiderinko will apparently fall in love (talk about quickly as spreading fire!), and a Japanese-speaking Venezuelan babe will join the group, to Gurasan’s very, very pleasant surprise.

NEXT ON AINORI


Ainori #362

Monday, June 18th, 2007

Ainori is a popular reality show in Japan, aired on Fuji TV on Monday nights at 23:00.

In August 2005, I discovered that Ainori was not only popular in Japan, but also all over the world thanks to Bit Torrent technology. I decided to write a summary of each episode, and do a translation of the weekly photo captions from the official site. What do I get out of this? I get to improve my Japanese, I get more traffic to my blog, but above all, I get the satisfaction of knowing many non-Japanese speakers all over the world can appreciate a truly unique reality show. Enjoy, and don’t hesitate to post any comments or questions you may have.

Ainori’s official homepage (Japanese only).

Current participants

Ex-participants’ blogs
(Japanese only)

Ainori’s BT downloads available @ D-Addicts

Streaming videos of Ainori are available on youtube.com.


Ainori #362

WARNING! THIS COULD STILL BE A SPOILER!

Late summary, again, apologies, apologies, apologies. This time, the group learned the true meaning of being in a tropical country – big-ass bugs? You bet! Gurasan was invited for a private conversation for the first time since he joined Ainori – about time! Sanchan gave some advice to Miyanee, who used it to make a truce with Oga, and as it was hinted last week, Sanchan dropped out for personal reasons.

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This week, the group stayed in a hotel apparently in the countryside, where they shared a room equipped only with hammocks. When they got there, they really seemed to enjoy the new experience, until night came, and they realized all kinds of “uninvited guests” were crawling about. “Strangely” enough, they went back to a more urban area the very next day. Mmmmh.

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The night they went back to the city, Neko asked to have a private conversation with Gurasan, who was extremely pleased. Indeed, it was the first time anyone had ever called for him, throughout 5 countries! Now that’s gotta be some sort of Ainori record! Anyway, she had asked to talk to him because she never had a chance to thank him for everything he had done for her. Indeed, his advice had helped here to finally blend in with the rest of the group. When he asked her how she felt about the whole Ainori thing, she replied she could finally enjoy herself, and Gurasan expressed satisfaction since he had been able to help her. She then gave him a misanga she had made herself. They then talked about the full moon, and whether they could see the rabbit in it. When Gurasan, upon admitting he had never seen it, wondered if there wasn’t something wrong with his eyes, Neko joked that there must have been something wrong with his head. Gurasan jokingly replied that he thought she had been thinking that all along.

She wanted to talk to him to say thank you? Now that’s bullshit, if you ask me. She’s obviously attracted to him and wanted to spend some time with him far from the watchful eyes of the others. And giving him a misanga? It might not be so significant in western culture, but it definitely isn’t meaningless in Japanese culture. I think it’s obvious they like each other, but why on earth don’t they show any of them admitting it in front of the camera? It’s like an itch you can’t scratch! But patience, people we might have an answer next week, as there will be a development related to one of them being part of a big (social) problem now in Japan.

abigprobleminmodernjapan.jpg
A BIG PROBLEM IN CONTEMPORARY JAPAN
A surprising development will occur!

Miyaneeleftmouth.gif rightmouth.gifSanchan

The tension between Oga and Miyanee had been noticeable for a while now, and Sanchan, probably in a final gesture before he dropped out, decided to do something about it. Indeed, it seemed Sanchan was deeply regretting his inability to express his feelings to Bambi, and apparently didn’t want Miyanee to go through the same thing. So he invited her for a talk, and asked her how romance was going. She admitted she had had a thing for someone (Oga), but that she had been confused and hesitant recently. When she said she felt she should step back and ponder about the situation, Sanchan told her the object of her love might as well go back to Japan if she took too long. He added that she was kind and thoughtful, and that she should be more active toward that person. She thanked Sanchan for the advice, admitting she felt weak.

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“If you think about it too long, that person might go home, you know”

Wow! That was truly amazing. Sanchan really talked to Miyanee as her Ainori “sempai“, in a way I never thought would be possible when he joined the group. He made so much progress, it’s like he has grown ten years in the short period he was on the show. He might not have found love, but he sure found himself. Good job, little dude!


Miyaneerarrow2_e0.gifOga

The next morning, Miyanee followed Sanchan’s advice and sat next to Oga on the Love Bus. Silent at first, she started laughing nervously, and apologized to Oga for that. When he asked her why she was laughing, she said it was nothing, that she only thought he looked in a good mood. He replied that he didn’t think that was the reason, that she was lying to him. He jokingly told her that she shouldn’t start laughing just looking at people’s face, and she replied she had realized it had been a while since she had seen his face. They both laughed together, and the long silence between them finally broke. She then wrote in her diary that she felt really happy, and that she realized how comfortable she felt when she was with Oga, thus reiterating her attraction to him. She also thanked Sanchan for the advice.

ogaandmiyaneegettingreacquainted.jpg
“This is good, good, good” “What the hell?”

I can’t believe that of all people, Sanchan was directly responsible for Oga and Miyanee getting friendly again. Miyanee confirmed he affection for him, and who knows, during all that time Oga spent by himself, he might have even found a way to forgive her behavior on “El Bonche Bus”. Hang in there, girl, you an do it!



Sanchan

And then, the next day, something that a lot of people had been suspecting for a long time: Sanchan’s dropping out. He personally went to knock on the others’ doors, and asked them to gather downstairs. He then told them that he had decided to quit, explaining that before joining Ainori, he had poor social skills, was not interested in going out, and hadn’t had much chance to talk to a lot of people. However, since he had joined Ainori, he had spent a lot of time with many people and had had many experiences, and had become able to express his thoughts and talk a lot more. Now, he wanted to go back to Japan, and talk with the people who had taken care of him, namely his family and co-workers. He then told them that frankly, he had always felt uneasy about romance, and never thought he could fall in love. In Norway however, he had met Bambi and fallen in love with Bambi, had talked much with her, and climbing the glacier with her in Iceland were to him precious memories. He finished by saying that the simple fact he was able to fall in love on Ainori was satisfying. Gurasan and Miyanee tried to convince him that he could still gain something from staying, but apparently Sanchan had been thinking about dropping out since the previous country, and told them he had no regrets.

sanchandroppingout.jpg
“I’m dropping out”

Yep, it was quite a ride for the little dude. From the application letter to Ainori, in which he explained he wanted to become able to talk to people, and go on a date with a girlfriend, and the interview in which he admitted he hadn’t talked to a girl in 6 months, to the meeting with the group, the hesitations, the long silences, the fever, the bullying from the other boys, and his meeting with Bambi… Honestly, I always thought he would drop out, even though I was rooting for him. But he has grown so much, I’m sure he would have had the guts to go through a kokuhaku (love declaration in Japanese) if he had stayed a little longer. Maybe he couldn’t get Bambi out of his mind, maybe he couldn’t imagine falling in love with anyone else. Or… is the whole thing a cover up? A couple of months ago I found a rumor on a Japanese blog saying that Sanchan had hooked up with a girl he worked with, and that the staff didn’t know what to do. Did they order him to drop out? Mmmh…

In any case, Sanchan didn’t leave Ainori empty-handed. He changed so much in so little time, I’m sure Ainori will have repercussion on his life for years to come. Good luck, little dude…

Next week, a new male participant will join the group, Oga and Miyanee will renew their friendship, and something will happen between Gurasan and Neko.

NEXT ON AINORI


Ainori #361

Friday, June 8th, 2007

Ainori is a popular reality show in Japan, aired on Fuji TV on Monday nights at 23:00.

In August 2005, I discovered that Ainori was not only popular in Japan, but also all over the world thanks to Bit Torrent technology. I decided to write a summary of each episode, and do a translation of the weekly photo captions from the official site. What do I get out of this? I get to improve my Japanese, I get more traffic to my blog, but above all, I get the satisfaction of knowing many non-Japanese speakers all over the world can appreciate a truly unique reality show. Enjoy, and don’t hesitate to post any comments or questions you may have.

Ainori’s official homepage (Japanese only).

Current participants


new.gif righ-red_e0.gif Ex-participants’ blogs
(Japanese only)
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Ainori’s BT downloads available @ D-Addicts

Streaming videos of Ainori are available on youtube.com.


Ainori #361

WARNING! THIS IS A SPOILER!

This week’s episode started with another unnecessary, futile attempt to make an already perfectly good show seem more interesting. Baaaah! The group also moved to Surinam, Ainori’s 76th country, where they unexpectedly got treated as stars. Miyanee seemed to enjoy Moriken’s company, but obviously still had Oga on her mind. Gurasan and Neko’s relationship seemed to concretized, although neither of them made their feelings known to the staff, yet. The rest of the show revolved around descendents of African slaves, who had escaped and perpetuated their original way of life in the middle of the jungle.

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Apparently, “proof” of cryptozoological non-sense, that had gone “unnoticed” in last week’s footage, suddenly surfaced this week. Right, like they didn’t see that when they incorporated the subtitles. It seems a “flying rod” had flown right in front of Gurasan’s face while he was talking with Neko, and of course, they jumped on that pseudo-sensational BS nugget to put a little excitement in the show. The problem with “flying rods”, whose presence has been detected almost exclusively through digital video recordings, is that their existence has already been discredited by a bunch of scientists, who actually “caught” some in a net. They turned out to be just regular moths and whatnots, who appeared to be something else due to an optical illusion created by the limitations of video recording technology. I swear, they’ll have us witness the group being abducted by aliens some day. Wanna bet it’ll be a pink flying saucer with cameras and mics conveniently set up aboard? “This week, Ainori reaches its 23rd planet, and the new female participant falls in love with an out of phase life form made of pure energy!”

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A flying rod

Back to reality (because that’s what it’s supposed to be: a “reality show”) the group arrived in Suriname, Ainori’s 76th country. Suriname is apparently known for peacefully co-existing religious groups who in other parts of the world are often antagonistic, with mosques and synagogues built next to one another. Another thing that was brought home to the participants and the crew rather quickly, is the rareness of Japanese visitors. Indeed, it didn’t take long before a camera crew from a local news program was dispatched, and got as far as to interview the participants one by one. That night, the group was eagerly waiting to see themselves on TV, and although Ainori came number two in the top news (right between a story on educational reform and international news), none of the interviews taken that day was actually shown. They basically explained what the show was about (mistakenly describing the Love Bus as being red) and that they were currently in the country, to the disappointment of the participants.

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(In Suriname) Japanese are an object of curiosity

However, the broadcast had been seen by no other than the vice Prime Minister, who was nice enough to extend an invitation to these impromptu Japanese ambassadors. The group was quite surprised, as they learned the identity of their host only after they got to the luxurious property. Wined and dined like no other Ainori participants had ever been before, they started engaging in small talk with the vice-PM through an interpreter. When asked what was their first impression of Suriname, Moriken scored some points by answering he was looking forward to learn a lot in Suriname, a country where many religions could co-exists peacefully, has there weren’t that many large religious groups in Japan. But when the host asked what they thought about the newly elected Prime Minister Abe in Japan, Hiroe put her foot in her mouth by saying she didn’t think he was the right man for the job. Consternation was clearly visible on the vice-PM’s face, who probably expected no less than respect for elected officials during a dinner party conversation. Hiroe’s blunt honesty had struck again!

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Oga Miyanee Moriken

After dinner, the hosts and the participants started dancing, and Miyanee and Moriken seemed to have a really good time. Later, she told the staff that when she was with Oga, she felt she could become someone who could make better efforts. However, she admitted that when she was with Moriken, she felt she could do crazy things without second thoughts, which was much easier on her. Over the next couple of days, Miyanee and Moriken hung out together, and Miyanee even wrote in her diary that she felt excitement when she was with him. However, Miyanee kept glancing at Oga, who seemed to be mostly hanging around by himself. Although she may look attracted to Moriken, I think it’s clear she still has Oga on her mind, and there’s this obvious tension between them. I bet Miyanee will talk to him again real soon, and try to make him understand he should be more lenient towards wild girls on party buses (read: her).

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From Miyanee’s Diary:
” I really wonder if things are fine just the way they are”


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Over the above-mentioned couple of days, Gurasan and Neko really seemed to be hitting it off, hanging out and having fun together, even acting like a couple at times. I think they might be falling for each other, although they haven’t shown any of them actually saying what was on their minds. Come on, guys, give us something here! I don’t think they know each other well enough to become a couple yet, but things look good and I’m definitely rooting for them.

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The next day, the Love Bus rode on the Ahobaka highway, which even though is a dirt road, is apparently the only highway in Suriname. The name came a bit as a surprise to the group as in Japanese, “aho” and “baka” both mean “stupid”, and for a second there, they all thought the driver was calling them names!

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“Aho! Baka! Aho! Baka!”

So they drove to the Suriname River, where they got onto a boat taking them further into the jungle. At one point, the participants were really surprised to see half-naked people on the river banks, and soon they arrived to a small village which had seemingly been protected from the influence of modern civilization. The village had an African look, because it had been indeed originally built by African slaves who had escaped and taken refuge in the jungle.

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At this point, they showed us yet another “Ainori Lesson”, but for once, they went a little further than what could usually be considered common knowledge (I had no idea some of the descents of African slaves in South America had not been completely culturally assimilated!). In the 17th century, Europe was swept by a wave of new products, such as tobacco and tea, the latter for which sugar demand rapidly rose. In order to provide for the increasing demand, it was decided that huge fields of tobacco and sugar cane were needed, and South America was a perfect spot with plenty of space. In order to supply the manpower necessary to operate the plantations, slaves were brought in from Africa and forced to work on the plantations. Apparently, the logic at the time that “as human beings, blacks were not equal to whites” was influenced by people like Montesquieu, a French philosopher who wrote a book called “The Spirit of the Laws“, in which he wrote that if Christians recognized blacks as human beings, Christians would stop being recognized as such (Note: This didn’t mean Montesquieu actually condoned slavery, because it seems he didn’t). So in 1674, the Dutch West India Company was founded, with the mandate to trade slaves. At the time, small wars in Africa were raging, and losing tribes were often sold for cheap to the company instead of being killed. These prisoners were taken to the Americas, and since Suriname was at the time a Dutch colony, many of them were sold as slaves there. Sold for about 500 dollars each, they were separated from their loved ones forever, chained and branded with an iron by their new owners. Ill-fed and forced to do hard labor, they were harshly punished for the smallest mistake, and the women were often raped. These crimes went unpunished, as the owners were in their right to conduct such atrocities. Naturally, many slaves tried to escape, and as the consequences for escaping were usually terrible if they got caught, they flew far into the jungle. Known as Maroon people, they made a life for themselves in the heart of the rain forest, too far to be influenced by modern civilization even today.

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When the group asked the head of the village if they still held a grudge towards white people for doing such terrible things to their ancestors, he replied they didn’t, as long as they could perpetuate the African way of life.

That night, the villagers threw a welcome party for the group, with lively African dancing involved. They say that about 15 million people were taken from Africa, and that some of their descendents live in more than 100 different places in the heart of the rain forest.

Next week, Sanchan will confide his uneasiness to the staff, presumably because he still has feelings for Bambi. Hope he won’t quit. Hang in there, little dude!

NEXT ON AINORI


Satisfy a Wish Variously

Thursday, June 7th, 2007

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