The television lineup at our house is usually strictly divided: There are shows for my kid (80 per cent), shows that my husband and I watch (19.5 per cent), and shows we all enjoy as a family (basically School of Rock). I can now enthusiastically add something to that neglected third category: Japanese game shows.
Last night, I asked my husband if he had seen the Japanese “slippery stairs” game show clip that’s been all over the internet. He hadn’t, so I played it on the TV. Then my four-year-old came over to see. OK, here is the point where I should probably try to explain “slippery stairs”, but that would be a disservice to “slippery stairs”, so instead, you should just watch “slippery stairs”. Like, right now.
Amazing, right? About 10 seconds into the clip, I shouted, “I’m yellow!” And then my husband declared that he was blue. My daughter, who was at first really confused, said, “I’m… red!” And then we screamed at the TV, cheering on our respective colours for nine ridiculous minutes. (I added one penalty: Every time your colour slipped, you had to do 20 jumping jacks. Though I’m the only one who participated – I just really need to work out.)
I realised that these Japanese game show clips on YouTube can be the perfect thing for families to watch together. (Note: I said many of the clips, not all. Definitely not all.) They’re short (most are under 15 minutes), and captivating. Because we can’t understand Japanese, I was able to add all sorts of kid-friendly commentary to the epic slippery stairs race: “Slow and steady does it!” “We get back up when we fall down!” “Oh look, he found a new strategy! He’s walking sideways! When what you’re doing isn’t working, try something new!” In the end, we all cheered for the winner. I’d like to think that life lessons about struggle, perseverance and personal strategy were being soaked in as we watched these Power Rangers in full-body suits claw their way to the top.
After watching “slippery stairs”, we moved on to “human Tetris“ and “wall of boxes”, which were also good fun. Just remember to give your kids the “don’t try this at home” disclaimer – unless you’re OK with waking up to your staircase covered in Vaseline.