Japanese Game Shows You’ll Have to See to Believe (Part 1 of 2)

Japan, like so many other countries in the 21st century, is a media-crazed culture. Since film, television, music and the internet are all such large parts of modern life, it stands to reason that they both shape and reflect the societies from which they come. In America, for example, a fixation on fame and celebrities has given us a television lineup full of reality programs and magazine racks full of tabloids. In Japan, a love for all things strange and novel has fostered a long tradition of very odd game shows. Here are three of the craziest that have appeared over the years.

Marshmallow Rubber Band


One thing that you’ll notice about these shows is, while they’re quite strange, they’re also very straightforward. In this game, contestants have rubber bands placed around their heads. Once their faces are sufficiently tautened, they must bob for marshmallows that hang in the air from strings. Maybe don’t try this one next time you’re making s’mores by the campfire.

Human Tetris


Perhaps the Japanese game show that’s best known in the West, Human Tetris was a viral sensation in the early days of YouTube, and people all over the world still watch the videos of the video game brought to life. Contestants must contort their bodies to fit into giant, moving puzzle pieces, or else risk getting knocked over. Spoiler alert: most of them end up flat on their backs.

This is No Task for Kids!


Some of these translations are a little clunky. Known as Gaki No Tsukai in Japanese, this is the most successful game show in the country’s history—over 1,000 episodes have aired. It bucks the trend of game shows with simple premises, as contestants can undergo any number of challenges. The video above shows participants in a competition where they must withstand humorous displays and avoid laughing… for a full 24 hours.

Check back in soon for three more Japanese game shows that will totally upend your expectations of the genre.