I Survived a Japanese Game Show

I Survived a Japanese Game Show was an American reality show that saw its first season premiere on ABC on June 24, 2008. The show followed a group of Americans, who leave the United States for Japan where they competed in a Japanese style game show.[2] The winner takes home US $250,000.[3] The series won both the Best Reality prize and the overall prize at the 2009 Rose d'Or ceremony.

I Survived a
Japanese Game Show
Isajgs season2promo.jpg
GenreReality Television;
Game Show
Created byDavid Sidebotham;
Karsten Bartholin
(also executive producers)
Directed byKent Weed
StarringTony Sano
(TV host, Season 1)
Rome Kanda
(Majide host)[1]
Narrated byRobert Cait
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English; some Japanese with English subtitles.
No. of seasons2
No. of episodes15
Executive producer(s)Arthur Smith;
Kent Weed;
Tim Cresenti, David Sidebotham, Karsten Bartholin
Production location(s)Toho Studios, Tokyo, Japan
Running time60 minutes
120 minutes (Season 1 Finale)
Production company(s)A Smith & Co. Productions
Babyfoot Productions
Original networkABC
Original releaseJune 24, 2008 (2008-06-24) –
August 5, 2009 (2009-08-05)
External links
Production website

On October 9, 2008, it was renewed for a second season.[4] On March 5, 2010, it was announced that ABC had not renewed the show for a third season.[5]


Season 1 logo

In Season One, the contestants are informed that they are to take part in a reality-style competition, but not informed of the nature of the show. They are flown to Tokyo, Japan, and taken to the Toho Studios, where it is revealed that they are to compete on a Japanese game show called Majide (本気で). For Season Two, Majide host Rome Kanda surprised each of the contestants in their hometowns informing them they were going to Japan. They are broken up into teams and competed in games against each other. The winning team was given a reward activity while the losing team was given a punishment activity after their team game. In the second season, the first game played saw the winning team have an advantage into the second game, where rewards and punishments were handed out afterward. In the final episode, the first two games reverted to the rules of Season One. Two members of the losing team are chosen to compete in an additional game known as the elimination game head-to-head where the loser of that game is eliminated. (In general, the losing team chooses its two players as a team, although in the event that they fail to come to a decision, their opponents make the selection for them.) If the losing team has only two players remaining, then both have to compete in the elimination game. In the final part, the teams are broken up and the four remaining players face three elimination challenges in Season One, and final three facing two elimination games in Season Two; in all cases, the losing contestant was eliminated from the show and carried offstage and sent back to the United States by the "sayonara mob" (脱落者决定), dressed in black suits.

The series followed not only the Majide competition, but also the contestants' activities backstage and outside the game show in reality style. The contestants lived in a house together in the suburb of Kasai, with a Mama-san (Kozue Saito), who generally expects the contestants to live in line with Japanese culture and customs. In season 2, they live in the Majide Guest House with Mama-san.

The host of season one was Japanese-American Tony Sano, who commented, "It's going to be like nothing American audiences have seen on network television." [6] Episodes are narrated by Robert Cait.

The show was produced by A. Smith & Co. Productions (the producers of Gordon Ramsay's Hell's Kitchen and Kitchen Nightmares in the USA) with Arthur Smith, Kent Weed of A. Smith and Co. and Tim Cresenti of Small World International Format Television as executive producers and Weed directing, and is distributed by Disney/ABC's Greengrass Productions division. The format was created by Danish producers Karsten Bartholin and David Sidebotham for Babyfoot ApS, and was originally titled Big in Japan.


Majide logo

Majide (which is Japanese slang for "Seriously?!"), the show-within-the-show, was not an actual Japanese game show, but was intended to resemble a stereotypical Japanese game show. The American producers watched hours of Japanese game shows, took the most common elements and created all of the games, with help from producers in Japan, who also produced the game segments at Toho Studios.[7] In contrast to many American game shows, which are usually based on either trivia (such as Who Wants to Be a Millionaire or Jeopardy!), mental skill (Wheel of Fortune), celebrity interaction (Match Game or The $100,000 Pyramid), or even dumb luck (Let's Make a Deal), Japanese game shows tend to be more physically oriented, an example is Takeshi's Castle. I Survived a Japanese Game Show uses the Japanese show Majide as its source for challenges, while the reality show format used a strategy base for whom to eliminate and whom to keep, in the tradition of Big Brother and Survivor.

Majide is hosted by Rome Kanda and judged by Masahiro Hurugori, known on the show as Judge Bobu (Bob). Kanda has translated "Majide" (マジで) as "You've got to be crazy!"


Season OneEdit

The first episode premiered on ABC on June 24, 2008. Tony Sano was host for this season. There were ten contestants in the first episode, with only one team game per episode. The season ran for seven episodes (unlike the second season) and the last episode screened on August 6, 2008.

Season TwoEdit

The second season premiered on June 17, 2009. Tony Sano did not return to host. In addition, the number of contestants increased from ten to twelve, and there are two team games per episode instead of one. The team that wins the first team game is given an advantage in the second, while the rest of the format remains the same. It ran for eight episodes and finished on August 5, 2009.

I Survived a Japanese Game Show around the worldEdit

Besides the USA, sixteen other countries bought the format. The American version of this show is airing in Australia on 7Two, Denmark on TV3, Hungary on Animax, New Zealand's TV2, Poland's AXN, Singapore's Channel 5, the Philippines' Studio 23, Sweden's TV6, Slovenia's TV3 Slovenia and Portugal's SIC Radical. The Greek version of the show (under the original name Big In Japan) airs on Alpha TV. In Malaysia it airs on 8tv, in South Africa on Animax, in Indonesia on NET. TV under Keep Ganbatte!! and in Japan on Dlife. FremantleMedia is the license holder of the show.

International versionsEdit

Country/Region Local title Network(s) Year aired Host(s)
  Greece Big in Japan Alpha TV February 1, 2009 Kalomoira with Yoshi Amao
  Norway Hjelp, jeg er med i et japansk gameshow! TV3 February 8, 2009 – April 5, 2009 Oslo Lufthavn
  Sweden Hjälp! Jag är med i en japansk TV-show TV4 2009 Carolina Gynning
  Portugal Portugal de Olhos em Bico TVI November 2009 – 2010 José Pedro Vasconcelos
  Japan ジャパニーズゲームショー「マジで!?」 Dlife March 2012 Tony Sano with Rome Kanda


A Greek version was produced by Alpha TV and began airing on February 1, 2009 with the title Big in Japan. The host was Kalomoira, a Greek singer, with Yoshi Amao. 15 contestants took part.


In 2009, Sweden began airing its own version of the show called Hjälp! Jag är med i en japansk TV-show (Help! I'm in a Japanese television show) with Swedish celebrities competing against each other. The show was produced and aired by TV4. The Swedish version was also recorded in the Toho Studios but did not include Tony Sano, Masahiro Hurugori or Rome Kanda. Instead it was narrated (and sometimes hosted) by Carolina Gynning. The show-within-the-show was not Majide but Do Konjo, and was hosted by Yoshi Amao with Mr. Fu as the judge.


The winner of the final episode of Hjälp! Jag är med i en japansk TV-show was Kjell Eriksson, against runner-up Klasse Möllberg.


A Norwegian version of the Swedish format was aired by the TV3 network.


In late November 2009, Portuguese TV station TVI aired its own version of the series called Portugal de Olhos em Bico. It ran only for two episodes. Instead of traveling to Japan, the contestants played the game in a TV studio in Portugal. They were divided into three teams of two members each, each of whom were relatives or friends. The teams were different in each episode, with the team with the most points winning at the end of each episode.


  1. ^ What's New Archived 2008-07-11 at the Wayback Machine from Rome Kanda's official website
  2. ^ "ABC's 'I Survived a Japanese Game Show' June 24". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2018-01-09.
  3. ^ "I Survived a Japanese Game Show's official website". ABC. Retrieved November 2, 2018.
  4. ^ Littleton, Cynthia (October 9, 2008). "ABC falls for 'Game Show'". Variety. Retrieved November 3, 2018.
  5. ^ "Wipeout renewed for third season, but I Survived a Japanese Gameshow won't return", Reality Blurred, July 22, 2009, retrieved 23 April 2010
  6. ^ Matt Hurwitz (June 23, 2008). "Japanese game shows coming to America". The San Francisco Chronicle. Associated Press. Archived from the original on 2008-12-08.
  7. ^ "Q&A: Tony Sano of I Survived A Japanese Game Show", MSN TV.

External linksEdit