Japanese game shows are known for their off-the-wall bizarre game shows, which often put contestants in incredibly embarrassing and sometimes even downright brutal scenarios.
Weirdness is embraced to the fullest extent and it’s not unusual to see things like:
- Borderline-torturous physical challenges.
- Eccentric yet degrading costumes.
- Bright colors and flashing lights.
Combining the animated culture to be expected from Japan and the sadism of the Saw film franchise, these game shows are wildly entertaining yet horrifyingly insane.
Here are 12 of the weirdest Japanese game shows that actually exist.
1. Candy or Not Candy — The simple premise challenges celebrity contestants to find out if what they’re putting in their mouth is candy or the everyday object it appears to be.
Using an art form known as sokkuri, chocolate has been created to look like anything from a shoe to a doorknob. However, unlikely contestants will end up potentially biting into these inanimate objects.
2. DERO! DERO! — Contestants on this game show are forced to solve puzzles and answer questions, which may sound simple enough. However, the show makes sure the pressure is at an all time extreme by having the contestants in high-stress scenarios while playing.
Playing involves anything from balancing on a retracting plank to being trapped in a room quickly filling with water.
3. TORE! — When it comes to Japanese game shows, the pressure of answering a question is never enough. Also, getting an answer wrong could mean being subject to truly peculiar punishment.
In TORE! the contestant attempts to answer seven questions before they are completely mummified. Not only are the contestants wrapped in a tightly wound cloth from their head to toe, they also get placed in a tomb.
4. Human Tetris — Contestants stand on a platform while a series of walls come rapidly towards them. The only way to make it through the wall is to maneuver one’s body to get through the challenging cutouts.
The hilariously entertaining game has increasingly difficult cut outs, which results in most players being pushed off the platform.
5. The Bum Game — Sometimes skill and strategy aren’t really requirements in Japanese game shows. This particular game involves girls placing their bottoms in a mold that hides their identities from the contestants.
The objective is for the players to try and figure out which rear end belongs to each girl judging solely on the two holes revealing their bums.
6. AKBingo! — What starts out as a seemingly innocuous game of dodgeball ends up with some seriously disturbing consequences for those who get hit.
The punishment for being hit by one of the balls is chosen by a comedy duo. Their job is to increase the grotesque factor throughout the game. One punishment involved two girls having to blow a large insect in a tube. The loser would end up with the bug in her mouth.
7. Let’s Go To The End Of The World. Contestants on this show get to travel the world, but have to endure some truly strange tasks along the way.
To give some insight on the oddity of these tasks, one contestant was placed in a Plexiglas cube called the “predator box” in order to “confront wildlife.” A grizzly bear was then released and taunt the terrified contestant who was required to still film while inside.
8. In this bizarre game, judges go around a room of attractive girls sleeping on the floor and attempt to wake them up however they please.
The girls are judged according to the cuteness of how they wake up. Those who don’t make the cut get a pie to the face.
9. Strip the Girl — In this game, male contestants are put through a series of challenging and embarrassing tasks in order to catch a glimpse of a naked model standing behind a board.
The board has numbered boxes and most challenges involve the contestant having to throw bean bags at the boxes in order to remove the sections one by one.
10. Spread Your Legs — This painful game involves three girls: one who spins a wheel, one who sits inside a torture device, and one who manipulates it.
The number the wheel lands on results in just how much the torture device is manipulated. The machine spreads the girl’s legs further and further apart. How anyone really wins is unclear.
11. Pain tends to be the name of the game for most Japanese competition shows as seen with this one, which involves attempting to climb soapy stairs.
However, most contestants end up plunging down the staircase and sliding into a large pool of goop to make the chance of success for their next attempt even more unlikely.
12. Human Bowling — This game features contestants taking the place of bowling balls and being sent down a sloped lane in order to knock down giant pins.
The show even made a cameo on American television when it was featured in the finale of the reality competition show Amazing Race 23.