|Japan's X Factor Celebrates 64th Anniversary|
|Wednesday, 19 January 2011 15:14|
On January 19, 1946, NHK broadcast its first ever "Nodo Jiman Shiroto Ongakukai", a much loved show that celebrates the hidden singing talents of ordinary folk. Now a TV programme, it could be the first ever example of the X Factor style talent search programs that have taken over our screens the past few years. Nodo jiman means, literally, "showing off the throat", and shiroto means amateur.
The idea was simple: get ordinary people who were confident in their singing abilities to have a go in front of a judging panel and audience. The show was an instant hit, and moved from radio to TV in 1953. It has been a popular afternoon television staple ever since, particularly favoured by older viewers. So, a cross between XFactor and Countdown?
There's no glittering recording contract and Christmas Number 1 single waiting for the winner's of this competition, however. Would-be show-offs have to apply by postcard to NHK. There's then an application process, and a selection audition the day before the actual broadcast. Only people who pass this audition will be featured in the program. The show moves around the country (think Question Time) throughout the year.
Each singer comes on the stage and starts to sing. A set of tubular bells is set up on stage, and when it is rung, the contestant must stop singing. An old-school and less humiliating version of the massive X on Britain's Got Talent, if you will. Less talented throat-show-offs can be stopped in seconds. Better singers will be allowed to continue, and the number of rings of the bell at the end signifies the quality of the performance. Interestingly, the Japanese explanation of the programme on Wikipedia states that "it is rare an evaluation consists of only a single strike of the bells, since this is considered rude to the contestant". Interesting, in that Japan is, rightly or wrongly, thought of as the world champion of game contestant humiliation.
Below are some choice clips from the show. Happy birthday Nodo Jiman!