In this episode of HamaKisu (濱キス), the Kis-My-Ft2 members face a staircase – a really long staircase:

Lots of Stairs to Work With

Of course, the staircase, while formidable, is not the whole story. Along the way, they’re doing a chishiki kyouyou (知識 教養 – knowledge and refinement) variety competition. By the examples given, this seems to consistently involve kanji.

Knowledge and RefinementKanji Readings

The Kis-My-Ft2 members quickly recognize the assistant professor for the episode – Yaku Mitsuru-san – a manga artist who also had some role in the sumo world. I hadn’t heard of him before this episode, but the way the Kis-My-Ft2 members reacted, I felt like I should have. His role in this episode has nothing to do with manga and sumo, but rather the fact that he’s a quiz show favorite.

Team Kisu Looks UpYaku-san?Yaku-san!On quiz shows

So, let’s begin the kanji kaidan (漢字階段 – kanji stairs) game! Are you excited? Well, if they do it right, this might be a great opportunity to learn some Japanese. If not, then at least we’ll enjoy seeing the Kis-My-Ft2 members squirm. Let’s see which way it goes.

Kanji KaidanThe Challenge 1The Challenge 2

First, they all get vocab lists with 1000 compounds to study, each member responsible for a part of the full list:

Study Time 1Study Time 2

There’s no equivalent to this in English. They don’t have to give the meaning of the compounds – that would probably be easier. No, they have to state the correct reading (pronunciation) of the kanji. The weird thing is that getting the right reading of the kanji is often more difficult that knowing the meaning. Being able to understand what you read silently is a totally different skill than being able to read something out loud in Japanese.

They take it seriously . . .

Serious Study 1Serious Study 2

. . . and they should, because their fearless instructor, Hamaguchi Masaru-san, announces an amazing 1,000,000 yen ($12,500) in prize money:

Hyaku-Man Yen

There’s must be a pretty significant catch here, right? I mean, they barely keep these idols fed. Well, of course, the fine print says that they only get it if they get all one hundred kanji right consecutively on the first go around. I think the producers calculated the probability of that happening at virtually zero, so we’re looking at a lottery ticket here. That said, it’s a lottery ticket that depends on knowledge and ability rather than chance. So maybe . . .

The First Try

I’m happy to say that, the way they displayed the kanji and the answers, you can definitely learn some kanji readings. Of course, since the compounds are so obscure that even literate Japanese might have trouble with them, I’m not sure if remembering them will be of any use. Oh, well.

Kis-My-Ft2 work as a unified team on this challenge, but even with all seven at it, they get stuck on the very first step:

First Compound 1First Compound 2

Miyata-kun saves them:


Looking it up, that one means being unrefined or tasteless. Since this is about knowledge and refinement, I guess that’s a good one to start with.

Second Compound

I’ll leave out any further details about the challenge. I strongly recommend that you get a dictionary (or, like me, an app) that you can use to look up the readings to find out what the compounds mean (assuming you don’t already know). Many of them looked quite useful, and it’s nice to be actively engaged while watching.

Will they be able to secure the grand prize against all expectations? Well, however frustrating this challenge might be, they can at least be thankful it isn’t worse than kissing frogs, scorpions, and giraffes.

The challenge doesn’t end with this episode, but continues into the next episode.

If you don’t know Japanese and don’t have a dictionary handy, this might be a somewhat boring episode of HamaKisu – at least, compared to what we’ve normally been getting. I wouldn’t know, though, because I was armed and ready. This was great educational programming as far as I’m concerned.