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From Endo to Dylan: how TV ads bridge the cultural divide

Japan's 'intellectual' pitchmen are happy to sell household necessities


I never had much interest in Japanese TV commercials until a friend asked me to appear in one, for an eyewear retailer. "What kind of people do this?" I wondered, before discovering I was following a long and noble tradition.

Shusaku Endo, for example, is the author of "Silence," now a powerful film directed by Martin Scorsese. A Roman Catholic of an idiosyncratic bent, he delved into the deepest and darkest areas of human experience, from World War II atrocities to the torture of 17th-century Christians.

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