Archive for October, 2007

Ainori #375 & #376

Tuesday, October 30th, 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)

Ainori’s BT downloads available @ D-Addicts

Streaming videos of Ainori are available on

First of all, I’d like to apologize for the lateness of my summary. Exams at school and personal matters have kept me busy. The good news is Ainori wasn’t on since that last episode, so I’m not tons of summaries behind like it has happened before.

Unfortunately, this is my last Ainori summary. I’ll explain in more details in a subsequent post.

Ainori #375

Ok, I didn’t write a special post for this one, as it didn’t deal with the participants’ relationships. Ainori #375 was featured as a special episode, mainly devoted to global warming and sea level rise. The reason Ainori addressed the subject is because Tuvalu, the country Ainori was in, would apparently be one of the first archipelagos to disappear if sea levels were to rise substantially.

In a nutshell, they explained that contrary to popular belief, the melting of the northern polar icecap, which is much like a huge piece of ice floating in the ocean, didn’t contribute to sea level rise. To prove this, they showed a floating ice cube melting in a glass of water and confirmed that the level of water remained unchanged when the ice had completely melted. Sea levels are not rising due to melting icebergs already floating around, but rather due to melting ice which is resting on the ground, like glaciers in Russia and Alaska, and the melting of the Greenland icesheet.

Another part of the problem comes from a relatively new business, called “Emissions Trading“. Simply put, companies who have reached their pollution limit, set by international agreements like the Kyoto Protocol, can buy “pollution credits” from foreign companies who haven’t reached their limit yet. In effect, although some companies do produce less emissions, global pollution remains virtually unchanged.

The Tuvalu First Secretary didn’t miss the opportunity to point out to the participants, citizens of one of the most industrialized countries in the world, that although Tuvalu had virtually no cars and no industries whatsoever, they would be among the first victims of global warming.

That night, the group had a discussion as to what they could do as individuals to help solve the problem, and they came up with things like not using plastic bags, implementing what is called in Japan “idling stop” (buses, many company vehicules, and more and more individuals stop their engines while waiting at traffic lights), and concluded that changes would come from individuals rather than from companies.

This episode was obviously used to bring awareness to Japanese people. Although change is slow, I have seen a suddle transformation in local habits since I came here 9 years ago. You can now buy reusable grocery bags made of strong materials in supermarkets, and you even get points for using them. I’ve been using such bags for years, and I try not to use the infamous disposable chopsticks. Hell, my friend Yuri goes as far as to carry her own chopsticks around even when she goes to a restaurant – something virtually unheard of in Japan. What do you do to help the environment?

Ainori #376


A loooot of things happened in Ainori #376: The group moved to a new country where they met a new male participant. Chaba lost her attraction for Moriken, who managed to send a bad vibe to Kuu, who in turn seemed to develop feelings for Teppei. Yep, hell broke loose, again!


The group moved to Samoa, Ainori’s 80th country, and I must say I’m quite delighted at this Pacific island streak! :-) 20 minutes after they found the Love Bus, the group met the new male participant, so let me introduce him.

carbonara.jpgThis is “Carbonara” (This is the second participant in a row whose full name is not disclosed – a new Ainori policy, maybe?), 25, from Shiga Prefecture. A so-called “freeter“, he wrote on his profile that he wanted to experience a burning romance. He seems to be the all brawn, no brains type of guy, as he answered “Carbonara” to all the questions he was asked when the group met him. Ok, he might have tried to be funny, but his “shortcomings” became more obvious when it was time to register at the hotel, and he suddenly realized he couldn’t spell “Carbonara”. Looks like we have a new TK on board. In any case, I hope he finds happiness on Ainori.

As soon as he got on the Love Bus, the conversation turned to the difference between the Japanese East (Tokyo, or more generally Kantou) and West (Osaka, or more generally Kansai). Apparently, asking a convenience store empluyee in Tokyo to warm up yogurt in the microwave attracts strange looks, whereas in Osaka they’d ask you for how long you want it to be warmed up, i.e. it wouldn’t be such a strange request.

The next day, Carbonara (and Moriken)’s affinity for physical prowess became clear as they both quickly mastered the basics of fire dancing.


Chaba’s almost infantile infatuation for Moriken (she went as far as smelling his feet on the Love Bus – eeew!) came to an abrupt end when she realized Moriken had “betrayed her”. Indeed, when she overheard a conversation between Moriken and Kuu, Chaba realized Moriken had had Kuu give him a haircut right after Chaba had given him her friendship letter. She told the staff that if those two had feelings for each other, she didn’t care for the misanga Moriken had given her.

Right. I’ve said it before, Chaba got into a fantasy romance when Moriken gave her that misanga, although he made it clear that the gift was to apologize for not fulfilling his promise to wash that towel of hers he used to clean up the mess he did while drunk. Moriken never gave her any reason to make her believe he was attracted to her, and Kuu giving him a haircut was never a secret, either. All this “you romanced me and then betrayed me” thing is all in her head, but given her history, I wonder if she’s thinking of shaving his head in his sleep! “You like haircuts? I’ll give you haircuts!” ;-)

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And just as everything seemed to be going perfectly well for Moriken and Kuu, Moriken’s indecisiveness started giving her some doubts about her feelings for him.

The day following the fire dancing lessons, Moriken and Kuu were seen on the beach talking. Kuu told Moriken how cool she thought he was performing fire dancing, and suddenly asked him how his attitude would change toward someone if he were to fall in love with her. He replied that he wouldn’t change much, although he would feel pretty excited about it. She told him that it wouldn’t be so good to hide his feelings through an unchanged attitude. She then asked him if he had discovered some of her qualities, and he told her he thought she was cute sometimes, and she asked him when, to which he replied it wouldn’t be appropriate for him to say (it would probably have sounded something like: “Actually Kuu, I must say you make me feel pretty aroused sometimes”). Later that day, Moriken admitted in front of the camera that he Kuu’s way to reply to him really cute. The way he said that made it clear again that his attraction to Kuu was stronger than ever.

So far, so good, these two seemed on their way back to Japan after a long, hot kiss on the beach. However, the next day the group went scuba diving again, and as usual, Moriken and Kuu seemed to have a great time. But at one point, Moriken went exploring a bit, leaving Kuu by herself. In a previous episode, it had been revealed that Kuu wasn’t such a good swimmer (she could have drowned if it wasn’t for Moriken’s help!), and she didn’t seem to appreciate being left alone. She later told the staff that although she was the type to commit to a relationship, Moriken seemed to be proned to do his own thing, and that lack of commitment made her feel uneasy.

A couple of days later, the group went to a market, and Moriken ask Kuu to go shopping with him. Although he was determined to buy something that suited Kuu, as a token of affection, he couldn’t find anything even after 30 minutes. Obviously unable to make up his mind, Kuu asked him if he was the indecisive type, to which he replied that he was indeed pretty indecisive. Kuu told him she didn’t like the indecisive type. That night, Kuu went to the staff’s room and told them how she thought Moriken was not acting maturely enough. She explained she wanted someone able to wrap things up, someone understanding who would listen to her. She added that she didn’t mind someone who made her feel dependant, but that she couldn’t understand younger men.

Well, I guess the infatuation has gone! Weird, everything was going so well, and all of a sudden he’s a selfish, hesitating, immature boy. I think that when Moriken left Kuu by herself eventhough he knew she wasn’t comfortable in the water might have seemed inconsiderate, and all that time spent trying to pick a gift might have been the last straw. Too bad. But it’s not necessarily over yet, and I hope Moriken will notice Kuu’s attitude and get a chance to redeem himself.

The day after the shopping blunder, Kuu and Teppei were found together talking. Kuu was seeking advice about her worries (Moriken?), since she wanted to find someone serious to get involved with, although she had a job and had many other things she wanted to do. She told him she felt uneasy because sometimes she’d want to see her boyfriend no matter what (note: in Japanese society, a lot of people work crazy hours literally devoting their lives to the company, and it is not so unusual even for “serious couples” to have only 2 or 3 dates a month). Teppei agreed that if he really loved a girl from the bottom of his heart, he’d probably be inclined to indulge such selfish feelings, too. Kuu asked if he thought she was that selfish, and he replied that he was used to such feelings from women, and that he had experience with really bad cases, too. So Kuu asked him what kind of a life he had led up to now, and Teppei revealed some of his dark past.

Apparently when he was a university student, he wasn’t studying at all, but was rather just having fun hanging out with “bad girls” in famous entertainment districts like Ikebukuro, Shinjuku and Shibuya. Her mom was telling him stop doing that or drop out of university, as it was a waste of money. Teppei’s behavior eventually drew a gap between his parents, who kept fighting because of him, until they almost split up. Eventually, his dad had to be hospitalized for a tumor of the stomach, and when Teppei went to see him at the hospital, he found a lot of people from his dad’s company, and relatives were already there, crying. Convinced that his dad’s condition was entirely his fault, he was really moved to hear from his father’s colleagues that his dad only spoke about him in the best of light, telling them how a good son he was and how hard he was studying. When his dad asked him to have a drink together after he came out of the hospital, Teppei finally realized was he was doing was wrong.

Next week, Kuu will apparently tell Moriken how she feels, that is, short of a kokuhaku, and Moriken will give a misanga to Chaba, gesture which will apparently start a love triangle of hell…



Monday, October 1st, 2007

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Here in Miyagi Prefecture, the new rice has just been harvested, and all over the country side, it is tied in bundles left in the rice fields to dry. In Japanese, there are many words for rice, depending in what state it is. The word for rice on a seedhead is called “ine”. Uncooked rice is called “kome”, and cooked rice is called “gohan”. Miyagi Prefecture is famous in Japan for its rice, and especially the “hitomebore” variety, which is my favorite. All over the country side, you can all also see autumn flowers, especially cosmos, which are purple, pink and white here in Japan. So this month’s header shows rice bundles in a field, and this month’s wallpaper shows purple cosmos on a pink background.

October’s header and wall paper.