Saturday, August 31, 2013

24 Hour Television

Every year that I've been in Japan, I've stumbled upon this "24 Hour TV" thing. Apparently, it's been a yearly NTV tradition since 1978. 24 Hour TV is a televised charity marathon that, as the name implies, runs for 24 hours. It's always televised on the weekend, starting on a Saturday evening in late August and finishing Sunday evening the next day.

Local NTV stations get in on the action by selling that year's charity T-shirt, airing local stories and organizing volunteers to set up shop around the city to collect donations. For the past four years, Arashi has been the hosts of the event. They also choose a celebrity to run a marathon. The 24 hours is a mix of watching the celebrity runner run, clips of the celebrity runner's training, stories of disabled children, video of handicapped children learning and performing a dance, drama about cancer staring some member of Arashi and, of course, lots of tears.

I've noticed that, aside from 2011, the event focuses on bringing attention to illnesses and those with handicaps. There is no. zero. zip. mention of Japanese living in poverty and how to help them, which I find strange and sad. Since Arashi has been hosting, they've aired some sappy drama (based on a true story!) of some young person who inevitably gets cancer and dies.

The celebrity picked to run this year was a woman that is a part of a comedy group, Morisanchu. Miyuki Oshima is about 5'7, I think and weighs 88 kilograms. That became the focus of her participation, with headlines of "88kg runner Oshima! Heaviest female in 24 H Marathon history!" flashing across screens and announcers' tongues. It also became the distance she had to run: 88 kilometers.

Interestingly, Japan is ranked 119 in the World Giving Index. Whenever I see the donation boxes out, people put in 1 yen or 5 yen coins...much like they do when going to the shrine or temple. That must be a pain in the ass to count up.

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