A love of food on Japanese TV

I have watched quite possibly far too much Japanese TV since I first came to live in Japan in 2009. While by no means does it make me an expert on anything at all, I would like to talk about one thing I’ve noticed throughout the years of watching: Japanese TV has a love affair with showing food.

A lot of shows in Japan enjoy sending celebrities and comedians on wild adventures across Japan or the world simply so they can eat. Even shows that seemingly have little to do with food will find some excuse for the people in the show to stop by a restaurant, all so the camera people can switch to a starry lens while some staff member or hand model slowly cuts into the food and lifts up a bite as if we at home are about to eat.

Japanese TV drives home the point for me that Japanese love good food so much, they’re happy to watch someone on TV eat it.

I try, actually, to not watch food shows here, but as I noted above, even shows that seemingly have nothing to do with food will find a way to squeak it in there anyway.

A recent example is a show called “100万回 言えばよかった“, which Netflix has translated as “Why didn’t I tell you a million times?”

It’s a TV drama airing right now every Friday night that I think is copying the movies “Ghost” and “Just Like Heaven” (I’m calling it now – the main character Naoki is actually just in a coma), where the main character Naoki, played by Takeru Satoh, realizes he’s suddenly dead, or so everyone around him says (seriously he must be in a coma. I’m going to write an entry about this show later).

You would think this show has absolutely nothing to do with showing food. You would think.

However, before whatever happened happened, Naoki was a restaurant owner with apparently a life-altering Salisbury steak recipe because the show makes a point to slow the story down just so we the viewers can hear the sounds of someone cutting into one of his steaks not once, but three times in the very first episode. In fact, his steak plays a crucial role in convincing the love of his life that he’s “dead” (in a coma).

When it comes to Japanese TV, there is no escaping food.

As an aside, every single time a person on a show takes a bite of something, they pause for effect, then find some clever way to declare the food amazing. It’s mind-numbingly repetitive. Just once, I’d love to see them take a bite of something and declare it absolutely awful.