The “Nodojiman” -a Japanese TV show-
By Eiichi Hiranuma

What is the “Nodojiman”?

NHK, the Japanese public broadcasting station, has a long lasting music program which is called “Nodojiman”. It started in 1945, and the program has been on air every week. The contents are very simple. In the program, 20 competing members of amateur singers who have passed an audition, show their unique singing to try and become a champion of the week. There are some reasons to explain why the program has been so popular and been supported by so many people. Its open-gate policy, being positive, or its simple and clear composition can of course be some of the reasons. But the most remarkable point of the “Nodojiman” is that the program is not made for profit but for entertaining the diverse audience of Japan, a “truly national” appeal.


Japanese link

How it can be “truly national”?

The program doesn’t take place in the same studio for each recording. The crews of the program –including the bands or the MC- move to another prefecture every time, and rent a public stage there for recording. Such hard and costly style is because of the basic concept of the program, the goal is to bring a chance for recreation to the public in each prefecture. Therefore, the program doesn’t allow people from outside that prefecture to participate. During each recording session, only people who live in the district can participate. Also, the way to select a prefecture is random. What’s more, due to its popularity, a random selecting and an audition are necessary before a taping a show. For these reasons, large numbers of people are eliminated. However, that’s the very reason why the program has lasted so long, and supported by so many people. Actually, there is a case, in which a woman could at last be selected for the show after 10 years of trying.


Composition of the program

The program is on air in the day time every Sunday. It starts with a chime melody, which is not recorded but played actually every time. Then, twenty competing members, consisting of either individuals or singing teams appear on the stage, followed by the MC, Mr. Miyagawa Yasuo.
After the opening ceremony, the main act starts. The participants start to sing in order. They can sing only one song, but choose among any popular tune they want, except with lyrics that are extremely radical, violent or sexual. The length of the song is extremely limited, and it rarely allows them to sing even all of one chorus. What decides the length of songs they can sing is the chime. The chime is rung suddenly during participants’ singing, and then the back up band stops playing. There are 3 patterns of the chimes, only one chime, two chimes, or a complete melody. How many sounds to be rung is completely dependent on their singing skill. While there are 3 patterns of the chime, only the melody means O.K. A participant who receives this chime can say his/her name and gets a chance to be selected into the championship.
This program actually decides who can pass and who cannot, however among the participants there is scarcely hostility or rivalry. On the contrary, they cheer each others and try to make the program happy. For example, while somebody is singing, others are clapping their hands or waving to create a good mood. It is the rule for participants, founded on the program’s basic principle, which is told by administrators, but no matter what the participants are told to do, there is always a kind of friendship among them and they are pleased by respecting each other. There even is the case in which participants who have sung on the same stage often get together and drink.

Japanese link

How fascinating the “Nodojiman” is!!

I have written something about the “Nodojiman” above. It is true that “Nodojiman” is a kind of old-fashioned TV program, and tends to be watched by older people. Most younger people don’t like to watch it. However, in this thoroughly commercialized consumer society, such TV programs, which a wide range of people can watch at ease and can simply enjoy, is really rare. Most TV program are aimed at a younger generation, concerned with sponsors’ relation. In addition, they are stupid and crude, and possibly include sexually or violently extreme expressions that make all parents embarrassed. What has made the “Nodojiman” so popular is this. In the “Nodojiman”, there are heart-warming relationship and story and drama. People can watch and enjoy and even participate. The “Nodojiman” is not only old-fashioned but somehow new-wave, and what Japanese people are proud of.


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