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TELEVISION REVIEW : ‘Japan Journey’ Travels a Superficial Route

Flash! The Japanese economy is booming! Flash! The Japanese people are very polite!

Learn all this and (only a little) more by tuning in to the KFMB-TV (Channel 8) produced special “Japan Journey,” today at 8:30 p.m.

“Japan Journey” is supposed to chronicle host John Culea’s trip to Japan. He says he had a good time, but viewers will have to take his word for it.

“This half hour is from the perspective of an American visitor,” he says in the opening, “how I was changed by the the country and its remarkable people.”

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But he never shows us how he was changed; he simply states it, and suggests, in his best travelogue tone that it may do the same for you.

“Spend time in this country,” he says, “and you will leave a better person for being here.”

The program takes a superficial look at the strengths of the Japanese economy, the religion and the life styles of the Japanese people--all interesting topics.

But there is nothing revealed here that you couldn’t find in a four-page travel pamphlet.

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It touches on the influence of the Japanese in San Diego by spending an inordinate amount of time discussing the $11-million Japanese Friendship Garden being built in Balboa Park and the Kyocera Corp., spending only a few minutes discussing the impact of the Japanese maquiladora factories.

Japanese companies have purchased major hotels throughout the world, the program notes, without mentioning the recent Japanese purchase of the La Costa resort in Carlsbad.

“Japan Journey” is at its best when it provides a glimpse at life in Japan.

Culea’s visit to a noodle bar and a look at the life of a Japanese family show viewers what Japan is really like, beyond the straight tourist view. However, such moments are rare.

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This is a primer course on Japan, a quick overview of the country and its people. Some parts of the program will look familiar to regular viewers of the Channel 8 news, since Channel 8 already spotlighted Culea’s trip to Japan in a multi-part series on Japan.

The show is made a little extra cheesy by the inclusion of blatant plugs for the airline that clearly provided the Channel 8 crew with transportation.

Japan and its many intricacies is certainly a subject worthy of an in-depth look, considering the multiple Japanese influences in San Diego. But “Japan Journey” isn’t it.


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