The Most Insane Game Shows In Japanese History

Japan is famous for many things: samurai, anime, robots, sushi, and its huge array of incredibly bizarre game shows. Take the weirdest idea you have ever come up with, then add costumes, flashing lights, screaming announcers, and some kind of angry animal, and you've just invented a surefire hit contest. Think we're exaggerating? Then take a look at some of the weirdest Japanese game shows of all time, and prepare to be astounded.


The concept behind the hit show Tore! is pretty simple: contestants have to solve puzzles or answers riddles ... while slowly being mummified. It makes you wonder how Alex Trebek might handle Ken Jennings bring right in the middle of an answer (or rather, a question), when suddenly he was completely wrapped in gauze. At least we finally know the real secret behind the building of the pyramids.

Downtown no Gaki no Tsukai ya Arahende!!

In Japan, many game shows are actually segments of variety shows, rather than their own separate entity. One of the most famous of these shows is Downtown no Gaki no Tsukai ya Arahende!!, which features a number of popular comedians doing skits, pulling pranks, and inventing ever-stranger game show segments to eternal amusement of everyone. Best example ever? That'd have to be the Ass Game, where sweaty men in diapers slowly grind their butts into the faces of losing contestants. If only we could introduce this to American politics.

Takeshi's Castle

The granddaddy of Japanese games shows as we know them is Takeshi's Castle. Originally airing in the late 1980's, Takeshi's Castle featured a massive squad of contestants competing in crazy games, like smashing themselves into walls, using their own bodies as living bowling balls, or dressing up as huge hands and slapping each other. It only lasted a few years in Japan, but has since spawned imitators in nearly 30 other countries, including ABC's Wipeout. Nothing can match the twisted genius of the original, though.


Before Tore!, there was Dero!, which challenged contestants to make their way out of a booby-trapped building in order to gain fame, fortune, and presumably the right to live. It was essentially the Saw franchise played for laughs, which might seem redundant until you take a gander at Dero!'s infamous death trap room, where the floor vanishes, plunging contestants into oblivion. That's fantastic. SyFy tried to copy its success with the Americanized imitation Exit, but you must see the real thing to truly understand its power.

Candy or Not Candy?

It's a simple question: is that thing candy, or is it not candy? Here in America, it's usually pretty easy to figure out. But not so in Japan, thanks to an art form called Sokkuri, where cruel confectioners create candy that looks exactly like everyday household objects. In the show Candy or Not Candy?, celebrity contestants are put in a room and challenged to eat their way out. Will their next bite be chocolate, or will it be wood, glass leather, or couch stuffing? It's such a simple, stupid premise, but so ridiculously entertaining.

Team Fight!

Team Fight! is exactly what the title promises. Teams—which often consist of popular band members or other celebrities—compete against each other for prizes. But it's the nature of the competition that makes this one a keeper. Every fight has completely different, random rules, from dodging bowling balls, to being pummeled by boxing gloves, to... well, whatever the heck they're doing in the above clip. Just imagine if, every week, you got to see something like the members of One Direction face off against the stars of NCIS: Los Angeles in the Hunger Games, and you'll start to get an idea what Team Fight! is like.

Let's Go to the End of the World

Let's Go to the End of the World is just like Amazing Race, except there's no race. It's just people wandering around the planet, meeting strangers, and doing bizarre tasks because ... well ... they're on television and we need to be entertained. Just how far are contestants willing to go to earn a few Yen? Not only will they literally go around the entire world, they'll obligingly fight angry bears in the process for our amusement. Thanks, Japan!

Silent Library

Like the Ass Game, Silent Library originally debuted as a segment on Downtown no Gaki no Tsukai ya Arahende!! It proved so popular, though, that it soon became its own TV show, here in America. Why? Well, the premise is basically Jackass inside a library—a team of dupes do painful and embarrassing stunts, but with the twist that they can't make any sounds, because those students over there are studying for a test, okay? MTV loved it, and it's easy to see why. Dewey Decimal System, eat your heart out!


Finally, there's AKBingo! AKBingo! This is part of a subgenre of a subgenre of a subgenre: a variety show starring famous pop singers that features game shows. It's not the first of its kind, as the band Morning Musume gained viral fame thanks to a game show segment on their series Hello! Morning, where they were attacked, strapped down, and assaulted by a wild lizard. AKBingo!, though, took things to a new level, with an awesome game where band members competed to blow dead bugs into each other's mouths through a tube. Are you listening, Rolling Stones? We can only hear "Jumping Jack Flash" so many times before we demand a little more variety next tour.