The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

Another Lost In Translation Or Just Japanese Madness?
January 23, 2008, 7:06 am
Filed under: Comment

Japanese Flag Made of Rice Barrel

Many of us got our initial view of Japanese culture from watching late night television programs hosted by the likes of Chris Tarrant or Clive James.

Without doubt, the highlight would always be when they presented some clips from the mental TV show called ‘ENDURANCE’

Here was a gameshow unlike anything else we had ever seen.

Sure we had some madcap stuff like ‘It’s A Knockout’ but this was another league.

The sole objective of the show seemed to be to humiliate and torture poor Japanese boys and girls to within an inch of their life.

They’d come up with the most ridiculous ‘games’ you’d ever seen … like coating people in fish then pulling them through ice in their underpants while a polar bear chased them. Yes … truly daft!

These images got burned into the mind of every young and impressionable kid in the UK, however over time Japan seemed to become far more synonymous with SONY, Honda and Toyota than anything approaching the craziness of Endurance. Infact if truth be told, Japan started to represent ‘sensible’ because the other stuff was either left in the past or forgotten altogether.

Of course anyone who has actually visited the place knows that whilst it is an absolutely ‘rule dominated society’, it has ‘pockets of culture’ that seemingly come from another planet. I won’t bore you by writing about them [go and see BBH’s great Tokyo blog if you want to know more] but what I will say is that you haven’t lived unless you’ve visited Cartoon Alley or slept in a Capsule Hotel.

Anyway, the reason for this post [there is one!] is that last week I came across something that demonstrated the Japanese subculture of ‘weird’ was becoming more and more mainstream because having innocently picked up a chocolate bar, I found it had one of the weirdest flavour combinations I’ve seen in a long time …


For those of you who can’t make it out – it’s Navel peel and almond … and let me tell you, it tasted as good as it sounded!

What’s the betting the company who makes this yuck is owned by the creator of Endurance? Ha!

4 Comments so far
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I used to think that the contestants on Endurance were training to be Government spies because I couldn’t understand why they would put themselves in such situations. I also remember my Dad explaining it all away by simply saying “The Japanese are mad”.
It’s nice to see your habit of embracing the weird and wonderful is still alive and well even when the item/experience is screaming out to be left alone. You’re the Louis Theroux of advertising 🙂

Comment by Pete

Why don’t we have a Blog Endurance? Like ipod singing but with pain? Any takers?

Comment by Billy Whizz

Endurance was my first encounter with Japanese culture outside of electronics and cars too. It was beyond comprehension. Its difficult to judge the average working salary man when by day perhaps they toil on producing the most perfectly engineered and detailed consumer electronics or cars and then after a couple beers with colleagues they might head home on the Tokyo subway only stopping off to purchase some vending machine used schoolgirl knickers before settling in with a tinny or two and an hour of Endurance.

Comment by Charles Frith

In that case Charles, you should really read ‘Ugly Americans’ by Ben Mezrich.

It’s bloody brilliant – even though it shows how greed turns people into quite horrendous human beings.

Comment by Rob

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