Japanese Game Shows

For my individual research project I wanted to look at

*・゜゚・*:.。..。.:*・Japanese game shows・*:.。. .。.:*・゜゚・*

My experience with Japanese game shows is limited to western interpretations like this. I want to know if they really are as crazy as everyone’s making them out to be. I want to take a look at the audiences, practices and industries around Japanese game shows and ~ as a female Australian ~ my interpretation.

Autoethnography seeks to describe and systematically analyse personal experience in order to understand cultural experience. It’s a way of writing about another culture from the perspective of your own.

In writing autoethnography, we look at other cultures and how we make sense of them, using this to unpack our own cultural understanding and assumptions. Writing from personal experience and reflection enables us to look back and discover deep-seated cultural assumptions.

As a female Australian, my global consumption of East Asian local trends is going to be vastly different; which enables me to connect my personal understandings to wider cultural debates and patterns of experience.

Autoethnography will help me connect an East Asian cultural experience to my own personal experience of watching Australian game shows throughout my childhood, including Deal or No Deal and Family Feud. I can later compare my responses to East Asian game shows to my lasting impressions of those Australian shows watched throughout my childhood. I will then research Western interpretations of Japanese game shows, and look into the history and culture behind the Japanese game show industry itself.

To understand the Japanese television industry and game show culture I’ll obviously need to do some research. But from what I already know, Japanese game shows are very popular and are consumed all over the world.

So… I wanted to find out what it was all about, starting by watching a Japanese game show and recording my experiences. I’ve heard people mention some of the crazy things they do on these types of shows and I was intrigued. To begin my investigation, I googled ‘Japanese game show’ and watched the first result – a youtube video called ‘14 weirdest Japanese game shows that actually exist’. The video showed short clips from each of the 14 game shows and they all looked so weird that I struggled to pick which I should go and watch. I originally picked ‘Japanese human bowling’ but the only videos I could find were blurry, pixelated youtube videos and I had no idea what was going on. I then decided to have a look around the ‘Japanese game show’ subreddit community and I found a link to ‘HONMADEKKA!?TV Mote Shigusa in Summer’. It’s loosely translated and without doing research, I don’t know if that’s the correct name, and whether the video is a segment on the show or if that’s the whole show itself. Regardless- this is the show I decided to observe…

Initial observations:

  • The men all laugh at the woman’s age- so patronizing!
  • If this kind of comedy was used in Australian television shows the ‘victim’ would also laugh at themselves, I don’t think they would ever be ganged up on (for want of a better phrase)
  • Is it acceptable for older men to lust for younger girls?? There’s definitely an older man in the panel of men who wants the woman to flirt with him
  • So the whole premise of the show is to comedically demonstrate how a woman can use her behaviour to show her interest in a man
  • No focus on conversation? Just behaviour?
  • I’m still not entirely sure if there’s any winner in the game, but the aim is to act out the scenario with one of the men on the panel, and make him fall for them
  • The men get the scenario and pick the woman from a lottery
    • If this was an Australian show it would be heavily criticised
    • Women as objects ??
  • They’re teaching women how to make the men look at your chest in a way that he won’t notice he’s doing it
  • The women are taught to look out for the man’s interest- ‘how to hand him a sweat towel attractively’
  • The woman is demonstrating how to flirt with a man whilst on a train by showing her armpit. This is so weird!!
  • Apparently even the way your legs are placed and the slight tilt of your body makes it very obvious that you’re showing your affection
    • I swear in Australia we just get on the train and start a conversation. None of this carefully planned posture business
    • They focus on using behaviour to “seduce” rather than actually talking
  • All the men are obsessed with Kato; slim, pale skinned and innocent looking

“Make him fall for you”

Screen Shot 2016-09-09 at 9.42.10 pm.png


  • Japanese subtitles are so colourful, vibrant and in a variety of fonts!!
    • English subtitles are always black and white
    • I think that the crazy effects and colours do get a bit distracting
  • The hosts are so enthusiastc
    • But then I guess Western game show hosts are too
  • Their reactions are very over the top
  • Feel like I need some context to completely understand why the audience is laughing all the time. I get that it’s comedic but it’s not appealing to my sense of humour
  • As the title said, it is ‘loosely translated’ but still a good quality video
  • Is this culture unique to Japan?

Every time I prepare to view an East Asian text I am excited and ready to laugh, be entertained and learn more about the culture. Yet as I finish viewing each text (as with both Honmadekka and State of Play) I realise that I’ve been overtly critical despite my original intentions. As I develop my Autoethnographic response, I would like to read into my tendency to criticise these texts, and understand what the deeper significance of this may be.



images; Google search: Deal or No Deal Australia

screenshots from Honmadekka




  1. Hi Renee,

    Japanese Game Shows are 100% next level of craziness!

    It is interesting how your initial reactions and opinion are largely critical. I noticed this form of somewhat negative critical analysis when I undertook the first autoethnographic research segment watching the ‘State of Play’ documentary. Perhaps this is an interesting trend? Largely we assess another culture critically, noticing the differences in a negative light side-by-side to Australian culture. For example, “If this was an Australian show it would be heavily criticised”. Great first post and you have now made me want to go and watch TV shows!




  2. I love this because Asian game shows are so funny to watch! Have you seen ‘Tore!’ Its Japanese and they compete in puzzle games to win. Theres a theory going around that if you lose, you actually die. This is because once the players lose the game – whether they fall down a bottomless pit or get dropped below a floor, they don’t ever show those contestants again! Check out some YouTube videos on it, its crazy. Maybe you could compare this show to Western game shows because without a doubt that kind of show in Western culture would get sued. So why are they allowed to get away with humiliating contestants and dropping them down crevasses?! I’m doing Asian Reality TV for my Group project, so it’s good to get some ideas!


  3. Hey Renee

    I really love the topic. Japanese game shows are such a great topic to talk about. Its really interesting in seeing how something so different can compare and become a different version in Australia. They are so crazy hahaha. One of my favourite ones the human Tetris one.

    Good luck with everything else and i look forward to reading your other stuff.


  4. Hey Renee,

    I like your choice of topic. I am quite the fan of Japanese game shows opposed to their English counterparts. A big difference I find between the shows such as the Japanese show ‘Sasuke’ and its American clone ‘American Ninja Warrior’ (ANW), which are obstacle based endurance shows is the introduction and personality of the contestants. In ANW each contestant that has air time through the course tells of some sort of emotional sob story. Where we get a summarized version about what the contender went through at the hands of adversity and how they are challenging the course as a way to show meaning, growth and success from that adversity. This constant inquiry about the contestants puts an emotional investment from the viewer and a hope to see them succeed. This also limits the amount of action time can be shown on television, so while we intend to watch the show for the action, there is in my opinion not enough. The Japanese version, there are minimal backstories, if there are stories they are comedic and humorous. The contestants have minimal engagement with the audience and so one hundred people are able to get through the course and provide plenty of action.


  5. Japan takes game shows to the next level and I think you’re investigation and analysis of this in terms of looking at the methodology is strong as the inclusion your personal accounts including “epiphanies that stem from, or are made possibly by, being part of a culture and/or by possessing a particular cultural identity” (Ellis) are present.

    Your first exposure and encounter of the show is interesting especially in terms of looking at how the focus on the show is on the behavior of the participants rather than the conversation, such as how it comedically demonstrates a woman using her behavior to show interest in a man. However, when you say, “if this was an Australian show it would be heavily criticised” do you think this is due to our cultural conventions and the way Australian culture perceives using woman as objects as wrong? Do you think in Japan this may due to their cultural history?

    Overall, I think this will be a great project and can’t wait to see it develop.


  6. Japanese game shows are something different compared to what you’d find in Australia. Whilst appearing conservative Japan in a way are very laid back on somethings compared to Australia. On my visit to Japan it wasn’t rare for me to turn on the TV at midday on a Saturday to be greeted by completely naked contestants on a game show. Whilst you’ve probably seen them, here is some of the shows that believe it or not make it on to television. http://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/entry/japanese-game-shows_n_4569474


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