Every week, Sekai no Hatemade Itte Q (世界の果てまでイッテQ – Going to the Ends of the Earth Q) sends cast members to different locations around the world to do fascinating and bizarre things, making it a uniquely engaging variety show. In this episode, Imoto Ayako-san was dispatched to Portugal (in the same trip to Europe where she would climb the Matterhorn) and Tegoshi Yuya-kun ended up in France. The question, of course, is what they did on their trips.

We begin in the studio, where Imoto-san introduces her segment.

Then to Lisbon, where Imoto-san, as usual, asks the audience to figure out where she is in this scene:

And it’s on the boat, paying tribute to the days when Portugal was a major seafaring power.

One particular proselytizer of that age of explorers has special significance to Japan – Francis Xavier, one of the founders of the Jesuit order, student of Ignatius Loyola, and missionary to both India and Japan.

Interestingly, the main point they want to make about Francis Xavier is about his hair – and the fact that he had more of it than the Japanese realize.

Imoto-san discovers confeito is from Portugal . . .

. . . and reveals other things that the two countries have exchanged.

Then Imoto-san heads north from Lisbon to Oporto and sneaks into church.

She’s so bewildered by what she saw that she forgot to speak.

Of particular focus is the amount of gold used in the decorations – a whopping 600 kilograms. My calculations do not agree with theirs for how much that should be valued – I have it at around $40 million. Their estimates are way over that.

Enough with the sight-seeing – on to the main events:

Wire Art! After viewing a few examples . . .

. . . the expert makes one of Imoto-san:

Now that’s amazing, and not something you see every day.

Next up was a matter of foodstuff – starting with the challenging retrieval:

Of course, Imoto-san has to get it herself:

Then she cooks and eats her prize, shouting the obligatory “umai!”

And then, we learned the secrets of corks:

Along with all sorts of stuff made from cork:

But what would Beast Hunter Imoto’s segment be without . . . well . . . beasts:

Imoto-san is trying to find this enormous fish for the second time, having failed in a trip to Spain three years ago. She manages to catch something, but it’s not the enormous catch she was expecting, so she tosses it back.

After eight hours of nothing, a fellow in another boat has something on his fishing rod, and hands it over to Imoto-san so she can reel it in:

She has a little trouble with it, so she hands it over to stronger hands while she takes care of the more important part – shouting excitedly.

And there it is:

What a catch to wrap up Imoto’s segment!

Then it was time for the 2013 calendar project, with Tegoshi-kun set to contribute the image for September.

The last two years, he had done bungee jumping shots, but this year, Becky-san has already topped those jumps with an Arch Swing, and he thinks tackling another bungee jump would be redundant.

The staff couldn’t agree more, and tell him that his image will be an art project:

Yes! Tegoshi the artist! For those who don’t know, that looks something like this:

So, clearly, just giving him a pen or a marker’s not going to turn out well. What could they be planning?

Oh, glitter painting. That . . . could work I guess. I don’t get the feeling Tegoshi-kun has much confidence in his art skills – enough to get some laughs with it, but not enough to put it into the Itte Q calendar.

Anyway, it’s off to a studio in Paris with him. If Paris can’t turn him into an artist, nothing can.

Tegoshi-kun acted so weird in his Paris intro shot that they decided to mute him, just showing his gestures:

His guide through the creative process will be Eric-san:

Eric-san demonstrates his methods, first “painting” with glue . . .

. . . then tossing the glitter in dramatic fashion:

Tegoshi-kun is going to have to do a portrait, and when he finds this out, he automatically does with his stock reaction – “Naruhodo, naruhodo, naruhodo” (I see, I see, I see).

Eric-san explains the basic rules of glitter painting, including the fact that you only have seven minutes if you want the glitter to stick. Tegoshi-kun responds that it’s a good number because it’s “Lucky Seven.”

And there he goes:

I said he’s no good with a pen or marker, but I hardly think a paintbrush and glue are going to make things better.

And . . . yeah. That’s just a waste of canvas, glitter, and glue.

I wonder if they warned Eric-san about Tegoshi-kun’s abilities.

Next, Tegoshi-kun picks out a photo of himself to turn into a glitter painting:

He settles on this one:

Eric-san renders it into black-and-white in Photoshop:

Now, can Tegoshi-kun learn how to paint it?

They divide the image into 36 sections to help him tackle it.

Unfortunately, the time limit forces Tegoshi-kun to rush and . . . well, here’s the result of his first practice:

Well, there’s nothing for him to do except work at it. Is this his toughest challenge yet?

The wonderful shots of him practicing are contrasted by the results:

In the bottom left, you can see that the last shot was his twentieth attempt. After seven hours, this was what he was able to come up with:

Well, that’s quite a lot of effort for one day. Time to enjoy some French cuisine, right? Well, according to the narration, it’s not going to be that simple. He has to guess the identify of an animal in the dark. If he guesses right, he gets a delicious meal. Otherwise, there will be an embarrassing punishment.

Frankly, I think just being shown getting scared like this should be enough embarrassment for him. Can he guess right and avoid worse?

Well, no. It wouldn’t have been any fun if he had.

The fellow who hands him the pig nose is a specialist in imitating pig sounds, and sure enough, once he sees it done, Tegoshi-kun joins in:

I have to admit, I find Tegoshi-kun a boundless curiosity. Sometimes, he seems completely immune to embarrassment. I can never tell what goes on in his head, and this scene is a good example why.

The next morning, he’s devolved:

They try to practice the eyes over and over on the big canvas. Then Eric-san asks Tegoshi-kun to go for the whole thing since they don’t have any more time in Paris, and this was the result:

Back in Japan, Tegoshi-kun continued to practice for a week . . .

. . . then back in the studio, he was ready to show how his abilities had improved (while dressing up for the occasion).

Since it’s not just visual art, but also performance art, he does it on stage, to musical accompaniment:

He’s got seven minutes. Can he do it? Watch and find out!

As usual, Itte Q was great fun and riveting entertainment from beginning to the end. It’s safe to say that the ending was a true grand finale in both style and substance, since the challenge was a very real one for Tegoshi-kun – this was a task he was definitely not suited for. But Imoto-san was great, too. It’s amazing how much activity she can pack into a twenty-minute segment – seeing a church full of gold, meeting the guy who created wire art, getting some lunch from the underbelly of cliff rocks while waves crashed into her, checking out how corks are made and what else the material can be turned into, and then going after a 100kg catfish. Another show would have spent the entire twenty minutes on just one of those five things (except maybe the cork bit – that’s ten minutes at best). This show is just incredible.