Japanese variety show

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A Japanese variety show is an entertainment television program made up of a variety of original stunts, musical performances, comedy skits, quiz contests, and other acts. Japanese variety shows are predominately made to be weird and extremely fast-paced for entertainment purposes and are primarily scheduled during prime television time. They usually feature a variety of hosts that include, but are not limited to celebrities, comedians, J-pop Idols, and so on. [1]


Japanese variety shows have been around since the 1950s and there are many of them. There are Variety shows that deal with eating weird foods to playing weird games. Japanese Variety shows see a lot of interest in the United States and a lot of Japan is classified and stereotyped because of these variety shows. There are a variety of memes that are circulating around the world that try to show how "weird" Japan is. People were drawn to these quiz like shows with their bizarre questions and impossible scenarios. Watching people make fools of themselves was extremely entertaining and to think it all started with a basic game show that was similar to charades called "Gesture". The second longest-running Japanese television show, which is a comedy, is Shōten which began running in 1966 on Nippon TV. Television in Japan made a big impact in the 1930s but then was put to a halt because of WWII.[2][circular reference] After WWII NHK and Nippon television were able to start up again around 1953. One of the first shows to have started on Nippon TV was Downtown no Gaki no Tsukai ya Arahende!!, which started in 1989 and is still running to this day with 1378 episodes as of Oct 29, 2017. Takeshi's Castle is yet another older show that had aired between 1986 and 1990 with 133 episodes total.[3][circular reference]

Current situation[edit]

Japanese television programs such as Music Station and Utaban continue in an almost pristine format from the same variety shows of years before. The only major changes have been the increasing disappearance of live backup music since the 1980s.

A once-popular host Kyosen Ōhashi said, "Weird shows that are called Variety only exists in Japan."[4]

One of the more well-circulated clips is a segment in Gaki no Tsukai, hosted by the comedy duo Downtown. In one part, if the male contestants fail to say a tongue-twister correctly, they get hit in the crotch by a spring-loaded pole (The Chinko Machine, or, literally, the Penis Machine), causing great pain. Hitoshi Matsumoto attempted to withdraw but the host - his comedy partner and co-host Masatoshi Hamada, cajoled him back on the platform.[5][6]

Influences overseas[edit]

Japanese game shows have gained popularity around the world in recent years. Hole in the Wall or Brain Wall have sold rights to countries like Russia, China, Argentina and Australia. America has even caught on to adapting some of these quirky style game shows. Both FOX and ABC have purchased rights to different versions of some popular Japanese Games Shows set to air in the Summer and Fall of 2008. One of the popular names that premiered on ABC was "I survived a Japanese Game Show". Another one that was an adaptation of "I survived a Japanese Game Show" is Japanizi: Going, Going, Gong! which wasn't premiered on the typical FOX or ABC, but was premiered on Disney XD and YTV in Canada and the United States.[7][8]

ABC has been sued by TBS (Tokyo Broadcasting System) for their Wipeout program allegedly copying Sasuke and Takeshi's Castle.[9]

The BBC also has its own version of Hole in the Wall in the United Kingdom, while Cartoon Network has the American version of Hole in the Wall with Teck Holmes.

Sweden also had a version of their own Japanese game show that was titled "Hjälp! Jag är med i en japansk tv-show", which literally translates to "Help! I am in a Japanese T.V. Show." They did take most of the idea from the American "I survived a Japanese Game Show" and made it their own.[10][circular reference]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ Television in Japan
  3. ^ Takeshi's Castle
  4. ^ Nikkei Business (January 30, 1995 Edition)
  5. ^ [2]
  6. ^ [3]
  7. ^ [4]
  8. ^ Breaking News - Abc Announces Its Summer Schedule With The Premiere Of Eight Original Series | Thefutoncritic.Com
  9. ^ "「風雲!たけし城」酷似!TBSが米ABCを提訴" (in Japanese). 2008-10-07. Archived from the original on October 7, 2008. Retrieved 2008-10-07.
  10. ^ sv:Hjälp! Jag är med i en japansk tv-show