Posted by: Jamie Stamm | March 1, 2008

Japanese sports entertainment

My husband and I aren’t big series TV watchers (mainly because, as working/commuting parents, we don’t have the time or energy to keep up with a storyline week after week), but we watch a lot of sports and shows about food and wine. Jerry also watches quite a bit of technology TV, especially G4, a network dominated by shows about computers, video games and gaming consoles.

I’m not much of a gamer, so I usually tune out when G4 is on – unless it’s nighttime or the weekend, when the network airs what have become two of my favorite shows. The first is “Ninja Warrior,” a Japanese sports entertainment show where men and women from all walks of life (from comedians to firefighters to Olympic athletes to garbage men) try to complete several levels of obstacle courses, featuring such unusual challenges as scaling a moving plastic wall, clinging to a giant cylinder as it rolls down a metal slide and scampering across an unbalanced board that’s hovering above a pool of “tepid, foul water.” While it’s amazing to see the men who somehow manage to complete the course (I’ve yet to see a woman make it past the second stage), perhaps even more fun is watching those who fail, and this video, involving a contestant known as “The Octopus,” is pretty classic.

Also on G4 is “Unbeatable Banzuke,” which may be even stranger than “Ninja Warrior” (although the failures aren’t quite as amusing to watch). One contest we saw recently featured a course that had to be completed while walking on one’s hands (which led to an interesting evening of our kids trying to imitate the athletes), as well as a timed push-up contest (the winner did 275 push-ups in 3 minutes) and a challenge that reminded us of the game Jenga (if it were played by just one person using a giant sledgehammer). This bicycle stunt is pretty amazing, too.



  1. Jamie,

    I have to admit that Ninja Warrior is horribly addicting. A friend of mine who rarely watches TV caught an episode and ended up watching a marathon the whole afternoon. I’ve read that a few Americans have tried out, but none has yet to win.


  2. Okay, the Ninja Warrior thing has reached a new level. Cera spent most of the day Saturday (while a NW marathon was playing) creating her own elaborate Ninja Warrior obstacle course in our living room. It was replete with gaps to jump from cushions and pillows on the floor to the couch and a blue blanket as the water in case of a misstep. She even had the “buzzer” at the end of the course represented by our Rockband drum set. My favorite part, though, was how there was a “second stage” which meant you had to complete the first stage again, yet this time you were to be holding a small, magnetic, toy fishing pole and the metal fish dangling from the end. If the fish fell then it was as good as falling into the “water”. I’m not sure if the second stage was ever beat, but it was sure entertaining to watch. And of course, not to be left out, Anthony had to do anything his big sister did joining in with a chorus of “watch me, watch me” as he too jumped off the couch all afernoon long. Kids are just too much fun.

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