Written by Brian Ashcraft
Westerners often say Japanese TV is “odd.” It’s not, really—even less so once you understand what people are actually saying. That doesn’t mean that peculiar or unexpected things don’t sometimes happen.
The Japanese word “hapuningu” (ハプニング) uses the English loan word “happening” to refer to unexpected events. It could be the TV producers who don’t foresee these moments or it could even be the audience being surprised by the broadcast.
For example, the above TV news image shows a computerized rendering of a “cosplaying thief” who was decked out in a black mask, a woman’s bathing suit, and fishnet tights at the time of his arrest.
Allow me an aside: I would say that one of the big differences between Japanese television and, let’s say, American television is the sheer number of cooking shows or segments with people either going to restaurants or eating food. This has its roots in the country’s love of eating and could even be related to how, in the years during and after World War II, it knew what it’s like not to have food.
Okay, back on topic. Here’s a look back at some of the more interesting, amusing, and unforeseen televised moments from over the years. These unexpected scenes are not unique to Japan and occur wherever there are televisions and humans, but many of these have even turned into memes, earning their place in the Japanese internet Hall of Fame.
Just a sumo wrestler checkin’ the computer. Nothing else to see here. Move along.
Just don’t look behind you. M’kay?
Are you an otaku? “No, I’m not an otaku.”
We’re looking for this man. He’s about 30 years old, around 180cm tall, and has underwear on his face.
The ice cream was delicious, she said.
“This was certainly different from what we had predicted,” said the man who oversaw the earthquake test.
“When you go to daycare, what do you want to do?” “Poop.”
The sun icons spell out “エロ” (“ero”), which means “erotic” or “erotism” in Japanese. (I’m not entirely convinced this was broadcasted, but it’s become an iconic meme image in Japan.)
How to avoid urinal sensor detection. Good to know.
“You mean, seven times eight isn’t thirty-two?”
“My father.” (The drawing reads “Papa and Mama.”)
“Merry Christmas.” (In Japan, Christmas is a big “date night.”)
NHK news, folks.
“Which one is Puu-san*?”
*The above text reads “Puu-san” (プーさん), and “Winnie the Pooh” is called “Puu-san” in Japanese.
Be on the lookout for this criminal.
A mankini sure can cause havoc at the beach! The cop said, “Because he is covering himself, I can’t really call this a crime.”
And you thought chopsticks were just for eating. Ha! They’re also a well-known comedy prop in Japan.
Here’s a segment from a comedy show that often tests celebrities’ English. Four, five, sex, huh?
NHK is one harsh mistress.
Pokemon voice actress and popstar Shoko Nakagawa is wearing a bean-shaped hat. Apparently.
FujiTV, it seems, could not find a better picture of 34 year-old suspect Naoko Nagashima.
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