This episode of Arashi ni Shiyagare (嵐にしやがれ) began with a ludicrously long VTR showing highlights from the episode – one minute of forty-five seconds in which they tried their best to show all the good parts in case you wouldn’t be able to stick around for the rest of the show. Then again, perhaps they did it that way because the guest is a kabuki star and no one gets tired of seeing highlights like this:

2014.03.01 Arashi ni Shiyagare 0002014.03.01 Arashi ni Shiyagare 0012014.03.01 Arashi ni Shiyagare 0022014.03.01 Arashi ni Shiyagare 004

The guest is Ichikawa Ebizou-san – the 11th of that name. That is to say, Ichikawa Ebizou is a kabuki family name that has been passed down since 1660, and the guest is the eleventh person to bear it.

Fortunately, even though kabuki actors tend to have illustrious pedigrees like that, they tend to be conversely very down-to-earth. I guess once you’re the successor to a three-hundred year old line, there’s no need to be snobbish to prove that you’re important.

2014.03.01 Arashi ni Shiyagare 005

What kind of fresh experience will he offer the Arashi members this week?

We already saw a clip from his first butai (he started performing on stage at the age of 5) and that’s what they begin talking about – the fact that he was born into his trade.

2014.03.01 Arashi ni Shiyagare 0062014.03.01 Arashi ni Shiyagare 007

Sakurai-san wonders if Ichikawa-san is acquainted with any of the Arashi members and, naturally, he knows Matsumoto-kun. Sakurai-san then expresses amazement that there doesn’t seem to be anyone in show business that MatsuJun doesn’t already know.

2014.03.01 Arashi ni Shiyagare 008

In fact, MatsuJun is so well-acquainted with Ichikawa-san that he uses informal speech (tameguchi) rather than polite speech (keigo), and refers to the kabuki actor by his real name rather than his stage name, calling him Takatoshi-kun.

2014.03.01 Arashi ni Shiyagare 009

MatsuJun’s impression of Ichikawa-san is that he’s amiable but fastidious and meticulous – sounds like the kind of person MatsuJun would naturally be friends with.

Sakurai-san then asks Ichikawa-san about what image he has of the Arashi members, but he said it’s difficult, so they just decided that he didn’t have a sufficient image of them and moved on.

2014.03.01 Arashi ni Shiyagare 010

But why did Ichikawa-san decide to appear on Arashi ni Shiyagare? Well, there was something about a blog, comments, and a settling of accounts with Aiba-kun. I didn’t get all the details, but clearly this appearance had a lot to do with Aiba-kun and Ichikawa-san’s frequently-updated blog which has reached 100 million hits.

2014.03.01 Arashi ni Shiyagare 0112014.03.01 Arashi ni Shiyagare 0122014.03.01 Arashi ni Shiyagare 013

As a result, Aiba-kun takes the lead for this episode and brings out a special ‘yarisugi’ (overkill/overdone) board which will no doubt highlight the ways Ichikawa-san has managed to garner such attention through his blog.

2014.03.01 Arashi ni Shiyagare 0142014.03.01 Arashi ni Shiyagare 015

This is a new corner, so we can expect to see more of it, and I have mixed feelings about it. Obviously, I’ve been saying that they should have a greater variety of segments, and they’ve been fulfilling that wish of mine this year. I also think that Aiba-kun has the best track record with introducing new segments. However, this does seem to tread on Nino-kun’s biography segment a bit – especially with the board and everything – and I also really wanted to see Ohno-san or MatsuJun figure out unique segments, since the other three Arashis already spend a lot of the time leading the show.

2014.03.01 Arashi ni Shiyagare 0162014.03.01 Arashi ni Shiyagare 017

Still, it sure looks like this is a segment that relies on the guest to have a very substantial silly side. Consider these images of Ichikawa-san for instance:

2014.03.01 Arashi ni Shiyagare 018

When Sakurai-san objects that the Ninomi-ya segment is good for this part of the show, Aiba-kun explains that the purpose of Nino-kun’s segment is to be thorough about the person’s life, while Aiba-kun’s segment is just to highlight the parts of a person’s lifestyle where they overdo things. No shortage of that sort of thing with Ichikawa-san.

2014.03.01 Arashi ni Shiyagare 0192014.03.01 Arashi ni Shiyagare 020

Here, they discuss the art of taking selfies, along with the use of trademark poses.

2014.03.01 Arashi ni Shiyagare 0212014.03.01 Arashi ni Shiyagare 0222014.03.01 Arashi ni Shiyagare 023

Another area in which Ichikawa-san is excessive is in taking pictures of himself while he’s in the bath/bathhouse/onsen. Aiba-kun makes a really silly pun here, turning bulogu (blog) into furogu (bath-log, if you will).

2014.03.01 Arashi ni Shiyagare 0242014.03.01 Arashi ni Shiyagare 025

Ichikawa-san has 251 bath photos on his blog!

2014.03.01 Arashi ni Shiyagare 026

He spends insane amount of times in the onsen, spending his time there reading.

2014.03.01 Arashi ni Shiyagare 0272014.03.01 Arashi ni Shiyagare 0282014.03.01 Arashi ni Shiyagare 0292014.03.01 Arashi ni Shiyagare 030

Aiba-kun ends up making a huge deal of this – I don’t think any of the other members could have gotten as many laughs from such as simple quirk.

2014.03.01 Arashi ni Shiyagare 0312014.03.01 Arashi ni Shiyagare 0322014.03.01 Arashi ni Shiyagare 033

They went to soba next, and Aiba-kun had them guess how Ichikawa-san prefers his soba . . .

2014.03.01 Arashi ni Shiyagare 0342014.03.01 Arashi ni Shiyagare 0352014.03.01 Arashi ni Shiyagare 0362014.03.01 Arashi ni Shiyagare 037

. . . and since they were having trouble, he decided to give them a gesture hint. I don’t think this helped, but it was sure funny.

2014.03.01 Arashi ni Shiyagare 0382014.03.01 Arashi ni Shiyagare 039

Ichikawa-san takes soba in water, and Aiba-kun has the soba ready so they can all have a taste.

2014.03.01 Arashi ni Shiyagare 0402014.03.01 Arashi ni Shiyagare 0412014.03.01 Arashi ni Shiyagare 0422014.03.01 Arashi ni Shiyagare 043

Following that, they went on to talk about Ichikawa-san’s relationship with his wife, Kobayashi Mao-san, using her cooking as a segue.

2014.03.01 Arashi ni Shiyagare 0452014.03.01 Arashi ni Shiyagare 0462014.03.01 Arashi ni Shiyagare 0482014.03.01 Arashi ni Shiyagare 049

They married in July 2010, and the marriage party looks very, very lavish, and involved a thousand people:

2014.03.01 Arashi ni Shiyagare 0502014.03.01 Arashi ni Shiyagare 051

The two of them met on NEWS Zero, where Kobayashi Mao-san was working as a newscaster. She interviewed him in December 2008, and we actually have their first meeting on tape:

2014.03.01 Arashi ni Shiyagare 0522014.03.01 Arashi ni Shiyagare 053

And it sure seemed like they connected, because it was a year-and-a-half later that they tied the knot.

2014.03.01 Arashi ni Shiyagare 0542014.03.01 Arashi ni Shiyagare 0552014.03.01 Arashi ni Shiyagare 056

Okay, enough of this biographical stuff! What about the thing he’s going to introduce the Arashis to? What about the challenge?

2014.03.01 Arashi ni Shiyagare 0572014.03.01 Arashi ni Shiyagare 0602014.03.01 Arashi ni Shiyagare 0622014.03.01 Arashi ni Shiyagare 063

It’s . . . it’s a kid theme park . . . called Aiba Land.

2014.03.01 Arashi ni Shiyagare 0662014.03.01 Arashi ni Shiyagare 0672014.03.01 Arashi ni Shiyagare 069

I don’t think there’s any point in me describing it – the screencaps say it all:

2014.03.01 Arashi ni Shiyagare 0702014.03.01 Arashi ni Shiyagare 0712014.03.01 Arashi ni Shiyagare 0722014.03.01 Arashi ni Shiyagare 073

Didn’t we see something like this as a possible VS Arashi/Bet de Arashi game shown at the end of one of the VS Arashi episodes? If not, I’m surprised they didn’t think of it.

2014.03.01 Arashi ni Shiyagare 0742014.03.01 Arashi ni Shiyagare 075

So, how about we have some serious races? Well, we only got a three minute taste of Aiba Land here . . .

2014.03.01 Arashi ni Shiyagare 076

. . . before they threw in a Tokyo Ii Mise Kudoi Mise segment with Ohno-san and Ninomiya-kun. I’ll give some credit, though: they’ve at least stopped putting it at the beginning of the show, which was a huge issue for me. In this position, it’s not so bad – it’s sort of like the Encounter the Unknown segment in the old format of Arashi ni Shiyagare, except we already know exactly what it’s going to be about.

2014.03.01 Arashi ni Shiyagare 0772014.03.01 Arashi ni Shiyagare 0782014.03.01 Arashi ni Shiyagare 0792014.03.01 Arashi ni Shiyagare 080

And frankly, I was very unimpressed this time. I’m very certain that I can make cook up everything this guy made, and probably do a better job of it.

2014.03.01 Arashi ni Shiyagare 0832014.03.01 Arashi ni Shiyagare 084

Consider this sad looking carbonara:

2014.03.01 Arashi ni Shiyagare 0852014.03.01 Arashi ni Shiyagare 086

And even the best attempts to get good lighting on this dish couldn’t save it from looking like a TV dinner, though it’s sometimes hard with pasta:

2014.03.01 Arashi ni Shiyagare 0872014.03.01 Arashi ni Shiyagare 088

Okay, enough of that! Back to kiddie land:

2014.03.01 Arashi ni Shiyagare 0912014.03.01 Arashi ni Shiyagare 090

They went on to a second game instead of doing more with those tiny cars . . .

2014.03.01 Arashi ni Shiyagare 0922014.03.01 Arashi ni Shiyagare 093

. . . and yeah, this should be interesting.

2014.03.01 Arashi ni Shiyagare 0942014.03.01 Arashi ni Shiyagare 0952014.03.01 Arashi ni Shiyagare 096

But on this game as well, they didn’t really have adequate time to give it a good try. I would have liked to see a real obstacle course set up, but I suppose there wasn’t space in the studio.

2014.03.01 Arashi ni Shiyagare 0972014.03.01 Arashi ni Shiyagare 0982014.03.01 Arashi ni Shiyagare 099

Anyway, this still provided a fun ending to the show.

2014.03.01 Arashi ni Shiyagare 1002014.03.01 Arashi ni Shiyagare 1012014.03.01 Arashi ni Shiyagare 102

Ichikawa-san was an excellent guest with plenty of interesting quirks to talk about, and I think any viewer will be impressed with the way his good-natured personality is combined with an undeniable intensity. He seems like a very solid guy.

The episode was therefore a good one, and if we could get all the humor involved translated, probably a great one. I don’t think I’ve heard so much laughter in an Arashi ni Shiyagare episode in ages.

There’s no question who the Most Omoshiroi (Interesting) Arashi for this episode was: Aiba Masaki-kun. He led all the proceedings, was clearly super-excited, and produced most of the humor except at the very end with all the members participating in Aiba Land.