50 Years of NHK Television

Lifestyle Information Programs

Today's Recipe has tracked changes in home life, eating habits, and women's lifestyles. Meanwhile, hobby shows evolved from technical education programs in response to increasing lifestyle diversification.

Cooking and hobby shows: tastes that define the era

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Society through
the kitchen window

Cooking shows on NHK were first shown experimentally in 1952 before the official start of broadcasting. Once or twice a week, a 15-minute program about the daily necessities of life called Home Library offered housewives advice on food preparation in particular.
Today's Recipe, which is still going strong, first hit the airwaves as a 10-minute program on November 4, 1957. In those days, Japan's food situation had finally stabilized, but only about 10% of households had gas, and electric rice cookers had just come on the market. Accordingly, the show focused on staple recipes; gourmet cuisine was not yet popular.
Over the next 45 years, the content of Today's Recipe gradually shifted to reflect changes in home life, eating habits, and women's lifestyles.
In 1965, as Japan entered an era of high-speed growth and the nuclear family became typical, the program's recipes were scaled down from five servings to four. In 1967, "speed cooking" made its debut as more and more women began to work outside the home. In the same year, a special on how to prepare the traditional New Year's o-sechi dishes was aired for the first time and proved a big hit. This reflected a fresh appreciation of home cooking and old family recipes at a time when there were fewer and fewer people to pass on traditional cooking methods. In the 70's, awareness of the health and safety aspects of food grew.
In 1979, the series Hints for the Home Chef appeared, geared toward the male cook. That was followed in 1983 by a Saturday program called Cooking for Men, further reflecting the shift to an era in which more men had ventured into the kitchen. The evolution of Today's Recipe was very much a barometer of the changes in postwar society.
In addition to the practical cooking shows, more playful programs have emerged in recent years. One example, launched in 2000, is the very popular New Gourmet Cooking for Men, in which food-loving guests propose their own theme and top-notch chefs demonstrate their skills by preparing a variety of dishes to match it.


Technical and hobby courses
Various "how-to" courses began in 1959, with the launch of Educational TV, starting with subjects like draftsmanship, radio and TV repair, the slide rule, hairdressing, cosmetics and bookkeeping.
Later, programs were added to help people prepare for professional qualifications as auto mechanics and construction workers. As the series name How-to Course indicated, these were practical lessons aimed at fostering technical skills. But in 1976, the series offered its first course on audio basics, sending the show in the new direction of helping viewers to express themselves better in their own hobby activities. In 1981, the name was changed from How-to Course to Hobby Course, and new hobbies were added one after another, including golf, tennis, skiing and fishing. New subjects like Let's Dance and Piano Pops proved especially popular. With a couple more name changes along the way, to Hobby Encyclopedia and then Hobbies and Leisure, the series continues to this day. Nowadays the most popular program in the series is, without question, Computer Basics for the Older Learner, which symbolizes how people's interests have changed with the times.
Alongside the how-to hobby shows, NHK also offered Women's Encyclopedia, which taught housewives sewing, handicrafts and flower arrangement. The show ran from 1959-93 and was the predecessor to today's Fashionable Living. From 1967 to the present, Gardening Time has guided viewers in cultivating flowers, houseplants, and bonsai.

Boardgame pleasures
Go and shogi programs were first broadcast on TV in 1960. Go and Shogi Hints ran every Saturday for just 10 minutes. The hosts were Honinbo Takagawa Kaku (go) and 9-dan Masuda Kozo (shogi), who explained their moves as they played against guests. A question would also be posed to viewers, with a prize for the winning answer, eliciting around 700 entries per week.
The NHK Cup for go and shogi, which continues today, began in 1951 for shogi and the following year for go. In the radio era, the progress of each match was read aloud over the airwaves. Coverage of the NHK Cup moved to TV in 1962, delighting fans by bringing the hitherto unseen faces of the go and shogi masters into people's living rooms together with their famous voices.

Today's Recipe
Today's Recipe
TV Car Workshop
TV Car Workshop
Go and Shogi Hints
Go and Shogi Hints
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