Japan’s Popular Morning Drama Takes an International Twist

Justin McCurry, Christian Science Monitor, September 20, 2014

When she came across a casting notice for a part in a Japanese TV drama set almost a century ago, something made Charlotte Kate Fox overcome her skepticism. At the time she was more interested in finding a day job than in pursuing what seemed like an improbable career move.

But she filed an application, and now, several months later, the New Mexico native is on the cusp of stardom in Japan after securing the role of a young Scottish woman who helped found the country’s celebrated whisky industry.

In her role as Ellie, based on the wife of Masataka Taketsuru–the son of a Hiroshima saké brewer who studied whisky distilling in Scotland in the early 1900s before taking his knowledge back to Japan–Ms. Fox is also challenging convention in the drama studios of the series’ producer, NHK. Having made dozens of popular dramas in a format stretching back to 1961, Japan’s public broadcaster has for the first time cast a foreign actor in a prominent role.

Philip Brasor, a commentator on Japanese media and culture, said that NHK is breaking new ground by making an international couple the focus of its wildly popular morning drama slot. “The old formula for the morning dramas–a cute young actress in coming-of-age tale–started to get old a while ago,” he says.

Fox, who beat 500 other actors to the part of Ellie, a fictional character based on Masataka’s wife, delivers all but a few of her lines in Japanese. She says she’s trying to do justice to the sprit of an ordinary middle-class woman who traveled to Japan at a time when foreigners, and international marriages, evoked a mixture of curiosity and suspicion.

The closing credits of each episode are accompanied by photographs of present-day international couples in Japan. While they are no longer unusual–around 30,000 marriages a year in Japan include a foreign spouse–such couples still attract attention that might seem unusual to an American or European.

“What’s notable about the excitement surrounding Fox’s hiring is how unexceptional it is when you think about other countries. Why is it such a big deal when a foreigner gets a job on Japanese TV? Because they’re still exotic?” says Mr. Brasor.

Negotiating Japanese customs

The real life couple the drama is based on, Rita Cowan and Masataka, met in Scotland in 1918. Rita’s mother took in Masataka, then a student of organic chemistry at Glasgow University, as a lodger after the sudden death of her husband left the family in financial difficulty. They married two years later at a registry office, against the wishes of Rita’s family.

The first few episodes, which will debut on Sept. 29, detail Rita’s struggle to win acceptance from Masataka’s family and negotiate a new culture. On arrival at her new home she is prevented from entering the saké storage room because she is a woman; she attempts to hug her Japanese relatives rather than execute a respectful bow; and there are predictable mishaps involving chopsticks and limbs numbed by long periods sitting on the floor.

NHK’s morning dramas are highly anticipated. Producers expect millions to tune in to Massan, as they did for Amachan, a 2013 drama about a high school girl who become a pearl and shellfish diver in the region of northeast Japan destroyed by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami. Amachan enjoyed average ratings of over 20 percent and generated 32 billion yen ($295 million) for the disaster-hit local economy through tourism and merchandizing.

Topics: , ,

Share This

We welcome comments that add information or perspective, and we encourage polite debate. If you log in with a social media account, your comment should appear immediately. If you prefer to remain anonymous, you may comment as a guest, using a name and an e-mail address of convenience. Your comment will be moderated.
  • IstvanIN

    If it is based on a real-life married couple I don’t have a problem, history is history. The real problem is the propaganda during the closing credits. That would seem to encourage miscegenation.

    • propagandaoftruth

      Yeah it sounds like a fascinating story, if not pushing an agenda, you know, just telling a cool and basically true story.

      You know, in Spain there is a surname, “Japones”. It comes from around a hundred or so Christian Japanese guys who got stranded in 16th century Castile when their Daimyo, a Japanese Marquis who had converted to Catholicism, made a journey to talk with the Pope. After building a Spanish style galleon in Japan, sailing it to Spain’s newly conquered Meso-American empire, ditching it and continuing in a new galleon sent from Spain, the Marquis and his Christian Samurai retinue made their way across southern France and Northern Italy, taking in the sites, mingling with the awe struck crowds and petty noblesse, comparing katanas to Spanish steel, finally meeting with the pope.

      Then the Marquis packed his stuff up, including some cool trinkets and snaps of the place, and left his hundred and some Japanese guys in Spain.

      Some of their descendants have the surname, “Japones”.

      Whatever one may think of the Japanese, they are a civilized and cultured folk, had their bloody weird out from about 1920 to 1945 (going from medieval to industrial in 50 years is rough regardless of genetics I’d posit), and now are some of the weirdest nerds the world has ever seen.

      I just don’t get the deep down feeling of disgust when I see a whitey and a jap-o together as I do a whitey and a negro.

      The Jap-os and the other East Asians are not our existential threat. They are a race of uber-nerds. Not an aspersion, by the way…

  • D.B. Cooper

    Her resume is pretty short. You gotta do what you gotta do I guess.

    • italian guy

      Of course it’s a White woman, who else? people always praise Asians, but they want a piece of the pie too…
      Many people might not know this, but apparently there is a “fetish” in Japanese porn about raping White women, i don’t know if it has a specific name in Japanese, but if you can find out for yourself with a quick search on Google (if you want to rage).

      • benvad

        I live here and no doubt about it, the Japanese are kinky and perverted in a wide variety of ways. They’ve been the world leader in weirdness since the first Godzilla movie debut.

      • CourtneyfromAlabama

        You are right. The stereotype about East Asian men finding white women repulsive is far from true. I was unfortunate enough to find this out on my own, and all I was doing was minding my own business. They are almost just as bad as the rest of nonwhite men.

        • Magician

          Do you have a bad experience with East Asian men being perverted towards white women? All I want is yes or no. You do not have to describe it

          • CourtneyfromAlabama

            Magician, I guess I could call them strange and creepy in their approach.

        • Jack Burton

          What stereotype? Never heard that one.

          How the hell could they find a superior race repulsive? Makes no sense. Sounds like sour grapes to me.

          They can’t handle a white woman is their problem. They’re not equipped for it. The average Japanese male is barely taller than the average Northern European female.

      • Chris Granzow XI

        Thank you. I thought I was the only one who knew about that. That’s why I hate it when people try to act like east-asians are innocent and harmless. They make incredibly graphic torture/rape porn-cartoon stuff. The women being victimized are almost always depicted as white women. It’s creepy as all hell.

  • MekongDelta69

    “When she came across a casting notice for a part in a Japanese TV drama set almost a century ago, something made Charlotte Kate Fox overcome her skepticism.”

    Really?! Good writing, Justin of bleeding-heart CSM.

  • B.A_2014

    Most Japanese movies I have watched have been great. Now the diversity promoters are out to destroy that. Please leave me alone!

  • Magician

    She is more beautiful than many Hollywood actresses (and a billion times more beautiful than Mrs. Suckerberg)

    Our society will always contain a little bit of everything…

    Maybe she is only in it for money. It is not like she is getting married to the Japanese man

    • redpill99

      same girl in both pics? whats her natural hair color

  • Ian Thomas

    This is shameful. Japan is one of the most ethnocentric countries on the planet. Why would they allow a mixed race couple in one of their TV dramas?

    • IstvanIN

      If it represents real life, it is history and that is that. They should not do like we do and have Morgan Freeman play the WHITE scientists in Dolphin Tale.

      • Ian Thomas

        I see your point.

  • Easyrhino

    For the Japanese a White actress portraying a woman of Scottish origin is a stretch? Seems like sensible and historically accurate casting to me.

    If a movie about Ichiro Suzuki is ever made I doubt the Japanese would be glad to see Seth Rogen as the title character.

  • Steven Barr

    The Japanese don’t even accept marriages with Chinese and Koreans.

    • Mason Gull

      Japanese-Korean intermarriage actually fairly common, as far as international marriages go.

    • benvad

      Koreans if Japan always marry out (with Japanese) and are slowly assimilating. Same thing with Japanese broads marrying Korean guys and moving to Seoul. They still hate each other but times are a changing.

      • Korean guy

        I paid a visit to Japan twice in my life and yes I was quite surprised by how beautiful young Japanese women were. But they dressed quite differently from young Korean women around their age. Their make-up was also quite different from the way Korean women around the same age wear make-up.

        I was approached by a young Japanese woman but she did not speak English or Korean which were the only languages I was able to communicate in. She did end up taking me to a shopping centre and buying me a famous Japanese doll named “Doraemon”. That little guy is also incredibly popular in South Korea.

        Many older Korean generations do hate Japan and its people because of the Japanese domination from 1910 – 1935, and they believe it is one of the most disgraceful things a Korean person can do, to marry a Japanese person.

        But among the younger generations, we do not hold such a grudge any more. Including me. When I was in Korea around 2010, they were teaching simple Japanese language on a children’s TV channel. That was unthinkable roughly 20 years ago.

    • Jack Burton

      They’re extremely discriminatory, even among themselves. They have a caste system within their own country.

  • There have been some bad signs coming out of Japan lately, including Japanese “wiggers.” The first time I saw Japanese porn I concluded that I can never understand the weirdness of that culture.

    • IstvanIN

      I saw a small portion of some show where a Japanese man spent his day masturbating to porn, while his wife did household chores, right in front of her. The couple actually let the documentary people film him in front of the TV doing his thing while the wife ironed. I have also seen videos of Japanese girls acting and dressing like American blacks. Very sad.

    • benvad

      Whenever a see an American Bantu on tv here, they always try to scam their way with racism and oppression. The Japanese calmly & politely listen to the problem then they do nothing.

      LOL, these Yankee Bantus never get it do they? That victim cry only works in the good old USA.

    • antiquesunlight

      Not too long ago, Japanese entertainment was very popular among teenagers and 20-somethings. Maybe it still is; I don’t know. It always baffled me. I thought it was all very weird and inferior to many Western alternatives.

      • OS-Q

        Lot’s of young people still like Japanese comics and cartoons, but it’s considered lame to be completed obsessed and be a “Weeaboo.”

    • Leon NJ

      I’m not a fan of Japanese porn at all. It’s either too weird or too loud. The girls shriek and squeal when being bonked by something the size of my pinky finger. I’m turned off.

    • Christorchaos

      Right. And a TV game show where they are trying to get the other contestants to orgasm and whoever orgasms last is the winner. I guess its an “Eastern thing”, I wouldnt understand. Their birth rate is way, way sub-replacement. The fact that the Japanese have some great natural virtues doesnt take away from the fact that their paganism is ingrained, and will have its way.

    • Jack Burton

      Blacks are mentally retarded psychopaths, and Asians are a race of socially retarded Asperger nerds. Native Asian culture is extremely bizarre.

  • Steven Barr

    “she attempts to hug her Japanese relatives rather than execute a respectful bow”
    Scottish people during the first quarter of the twentieth century certainly weren’t known for their runaway emotions!

    • IstvanIN

      They were probably more demonstrative than the Japanese of the period. Matter of proportionality.

  • Adolf Verloc

    Haven’t tried any yet, but I’m told that some of the Japanese whiskies are pretty good.

    • Jack Burton

      Japanese are smart. They go to foreign countries themselves to learn other cuisines and alcohols, then they bring their knowledge back and open up their version of it in Japan. Instead of what the West does by letting the foreign immigrants in to cook while the whites get fat and sell themselves out for convenience.

  • Truthseeker

    This doesn’t surprise me. I’ve watched some Korean dramas before. One had an interracial romance (although in the end they didn’t stay together), and another encouraged letting foreigners into Korea.

    As an occasional observer of contemporary Korean culture, I cringe when I hear people say that only White countries have diversity pushed on them. While it’s true that East Asian countries like Japan and Korea haven’t gone diversity-mad like we have in the West, they still have those ideas planted in their culture. They have their own “Cathedrals,” to use the terminology of the Dark Enlightenment. As a nationalist for all people, I hope they stop themselves before they get to where we are.

    • CourtneyfromAlabama

      A lot of people are still stuck in the 90s when it comes to comparing East Asians to whites. I was, just the other day on here, listing examples about how marriages over there are starting to go South but for different reasons than over here. It didn’t go over too well with some people. They insisted I was wrong and gave me the usual lecture about how “but Japanese women aren’t feminists etc… etc….”. That is beside the point. They obviously haven’t done their research. It doesn’t take long to Google this information on the internet in regards to how male/female relationships and birthrates aren’t at their best over there.

    • Jack Burton

      An Asian rapping in their dialect and language is the funniest thing.

      A bony-assed Asian girl twerking, so wrong.

  • journey

    The majority of the wealth generated in the Far East came from Western countries whether in the past or present. The Asian countries used the technology from white brain power very well in contrast to Africans/blacks. Unfortunately, there is a tremendous wealth (job) drain today from the West to the East. The middle class of this country is suffering the most from that drain. To make matters worse, the elites are also importing cheap labor from 3 world countries.

    • IstvanIN

      The Japanese definitely took our inventions, studied them and frequently improved upon them. The Red Chinese, not so much thus far but who knows what will happen down the road. They have made tremendous progress in the 40 years since Mao died.

      • journey

        Actually, majority of China’s present technological advances have been from Western countries. Don’t forget under strict Communism rule, anything Western was forbidden. In Alan Weisman’s book Countdown, he relates how China was doing stats analysis on the optimum land man ratio using the abacus! Whereas, a few favored scientists had access to Western supercomputers. But what was amazing was that the data from the abacus was pretty close to the computer generated data except no charts. And most of China’s scientists have been trained here then returning back to their homeland. China’s defense technology is primarily from this country. The father of their rocket science development was educated and trained here. Plus, the relentless stealing of technology, past and current on all levels by the Chinese.

        Side note: From Weisman’s book, the Chinese came up with a population of about 900 million for optimum economic sustainability for China. So, population control is not that far off in the future especially for Africa. Global drought (drinkable water) is certainly increasingly a problem.

        • italian guy

          Do you recommend Weisman’s book?

          • journey

            I enjoyed reading it. Weisman in Countdown went from nation to nation relating how each nation tried to deal with population growth. Iran was ahead of all the nations. It was interesting and refreshing to read how Israel, Jordan, and Palestine are working together in trying to come up with solutions regarding water and energy. This is the goal of humanity to work together in trying to solve problems. As usual, the blacks just do not get it that one should not breed beyond a certain point. Have yet to read his first book but Weisman’s main gist in both books is what the reckless human population growth is doing to this planet. This is a major growing concern.

            Although did not appreciate Weisman knocking down chiropractic as it is actually environmental, economic, and effective friendly in dealing with certain health issues. The present health care system of over selling of drugs and surgeries for huge profits need to be seriously curtailed. The drugs (toxic chemicals) residues are polluting the waterways and causing the wildlife to be deformed plus we also in turn drink down this drug cocktail.

          • italian guy

            Thank you, maybe i will look into it.

    • CourtneyfromAlabama

      What I find disturbing is the number of white people who seem to believe that China was more advanced than us up until 1800. That false belief seems to be taken as gospel today, even though the lie wasn’t even propagated ’til 50 years ago. I find it very disturbing. I am tired of my people getting their achievements taken from them.

      • antiquesunlight

        Me too. It’s obvious as anything that the world was invented by us. Whether it’s technology, art, philosophy, economics – we came up with almost everything of major importance. When I was taking my core classes in college – history and political science, in particular – I had to undergo an endless stream of anti-white history and ideology. One of my literature teachers went on a rant about how Mexicans are the future of America (meaning that it was a good thing). A lot of that stuff was a big part of what finally woke me up about race. It was absolutely disgusting.

        • Dave West

          Too be fair the Chinese did invent gun powder and paper, but there is little in todays modern world that they are responsible for.

          • Samuel Hathaway

            As the Chinese would say as a result of not being responsible for much in the modern world…


      • journey

        The Chinese for centuries were behind the West. So likely, what you reporting is more anti-white propaganda. China fell to the Japan because they isolated themselves from Western influences for centuries. While, Japan eagerly gravitated toward Western technology climaxing in their invasion, rule, and brutality of the Far East during WWII.

      • none of your business

        So am I. I am also tired of the old enlightenment reformation myth of the “dark ages” by people who have never read history other than reprints of
        1880 4th form “Glorious British Empire Uber Alles” school books.

      • cstung

        actually, that was quite true, the industrial revolution was only getting underway in 1800, when the USA was a very thinly populated, backwards and recently independent ex-colony, The balance did change by 1840-1842, however, with the British opening of china after the opium wars in order to force open the chinese market and reverse their trade deficit.

        no one is denying western achievements in the last millenium, especially in the last few centuries, but they should be placed into historical context.

  • Magician

    On April 9, here on AmRen there was an entry about some (certainly not many) young native people in Japan trying to experience the hip hop ghetto culture


    And it included this YouTube clip


  • Sick of it

    “Japan’s public broadcaster has for the first time cast a foreign actor in a prominent role.”

    With a last name like Fox no less. Come on Japan, you know better.

  • Leon NJ

    If Japan goes, so does the planet.

  • tetrapod

    So now the multicult rot has arrived in Japan.

    • Jack Burton

      No, it hasn’t. This is all hysterical silliness.

      First of all, it’s based on a real couple, so it’s not exactly propaganda.

      Also, notice how they combine interracial couples with “foreigners.” The vast majority of foreigners are Korean, Chinese and other Mongoloid Asians who just aren’t Japanese.

      You’ll be happy to know that Japan is still 99% Japanese and 99.99% Mongoloid.

      When Japan is 40% non-Mongoloid and constantly has interracial propaganda in their media and schools, then get back to me.

      • tetrapod

        I hope you’re right, but bad things often have innocuous beginnings.

  • Samuel Hathaway

    an interracial couple in Japanese media. Oh, boy, we’ve got problems.

    Even the Spanish telenovelas haven’t yet gone this far. All the hot romantic flings in the novelas are still exclusively between Euro-Caucasian hispanics who still employ indigenous houseworkers and landscapers.

    • Jack Burton

      No, it was based on a real couple. The Japanese man didn’t marry for love, he used his experiences in Scotland and her to create Japanese whisky.

      They never had children.

      Get your eyes checked. You mean between castizos, while they have mestizos and predominantly non-white mongrels as workers. None of them are white, it’s only a matter of what degree they are non-white.

    • Chris Granzow XI

      Exactly. Oddly enough, Telemundo + univision are the last bastion of homogeneity you can find on U.S. cable channels.

  • Paleoconn

    There’s a commercial that I saw last weekend where a White boy, Ben brings home a mulatto girl, Sara, to the great joy of his White family. My box of Huggies has a cute mulatto boy on it. The media is pushing miscegenation in general, and miscegenation of Whites in specific.

  • CourtneyfromAlabama

    Rushton did a great deal of good for us but he showed a disturbing bias towards Asians. He even contradicted himself on the topic…he would try to explain away in any way he could why whites “got lucky” etc… in regards to inventing most of everything, but then he would turn around and exaggerate the never ending list of mythical Chinese inventions that never happened, constantly reminding us about how China was more advanced during “most of history” and will soon be again. You can’t have it both ways, but Sinophiles commit this fallacy constantly.

  • Jack Burton

    It’s black culture, I’m not one to preach to them what they should or shouldn’t do within their own community. That’s their problem.

    However, the whole point of the dance is to show off their buttocks and hips, which Asian girls have very little of. It’s like a flat-chested girl doing a wet t-shirt contest or trying to shimmy when she has nothing to shake. You get it yet?

  • Chris Granzow XI

    I wouldn’t say that. There are a couple prominent instances of white females in Japan being kidnapped and raped, even murdered and eaten, by some creepy japanese pervs who fetishized white women. That weird porn stuff they make isn’t harmless.

  • Jack Burton

    “it indicates promiscuity”

    No, it doesn’t. That’s fallacious reasoning. It’s vulgar, but that’s not proof that someone is promiscuous.

    It’s not about wanting or not wanting, you have trouble with a logical train of thought.

    If you have nothing to show off then there’s no point in shaking it, it’s laughable.

  • KunTewk

    The reason we feel the deepest disgust w/ White-black “relationships” is because sub-Saharan blacks are the only peoples on Earth that have no Neanderthal DNA in them. This is the key. I believe the influence that Neanderthal upon our genetic makeup has been significant. It’s that Neanderthal DNA that put us on the Moon. The Neanderthal had a much bigger brain and I believe that the wrong species won out. Mindless procreation and numbers over character and intellect is an abomination.

  • Chris Granzow XI

    Don’t be so quick to write people off. Like the person who originally commented here said, they have an entire billion-dollar porn industry in Japan consisting of white women being abused and raped. Even in latin america, africa, etc. they don’t have stuff like that. White women in Japan get harassed, too. Just search for it on google. You’ll find women talking about it. One esl teacher was talking about how men would set up tutoring sessions with her, and the try to have sex with her when she showed up to teach them. They can be very predatory towards white women. Don’t think that just because asian men are shorter and more educated that they don’t aggressively pursue white women. I’ve seen the creepy messages on facebook (etc) that some of my white female friends have gotten from random east asian men. At times they can be no better than black men.

  • Chris Granzow XI

    I suppose it depends on the demographics of where you live. I grew up in a majority black city (Milwaukee), on the blackest side of town, so most of the white women I’ve known who have been raped or assaulted were attacked by black men.