Watashi no Himitsu (1955-1967)

Watashi No Himitsu translates roughly as "My Secret."  This series ran from April 14, 1955 to March 27, 1967 over the public television service NHK.  In all, about 600 episodes were produced, only a few dozen fewer than the American version.  Unfortunately, less care was taken to preserve those shows and today, only a few survive.  The current NHK website has a brief clip from the beginning of an early episode. In it, the contestant's secret is that he was born on January first and his name is Gantan.  In other words, his name is "New Year's Day"

The original host of this version was Keizo Takahashi, a popular personality on NHK.  Takahashi left the show (and NHK) in 1962 and became one of Japan's first freelance announcers before entering the commercial television industry.  His picture was on the cover of the first Japanese TV Guide in 1962.  In the late seventies he entered the political arena and became a member of Japan's House of Counsilors, where he served a single term.  Jiro Yagi (pictured at right) became the second host of Watashi no Himitsu in April 1962.  In December 1965, Toshi Hasegawa became the third and final host.

The panel consisted of three regulars and a guest, and there was a remarkable stability in the regular lineup.  Shinichiro Watanabe was a reporter for the Asahi Shinbun who worked as a bureau chief in Paris and Stockholm during WWII.   Aki Fujiwara was an author and entertainer who was beauty director for the cosmetics company Shiseido for a time. She left the show in March 1962 to pursue a political career.  Yaeko Shiotsuki, a tea ceremony critic (sounds like a job for What's My Line?), replaced Fujiwara on the panel until the end of the run. Her book "Introduction to Ceremonial Occasions," written in 1970, was a bestseller.  Finally, Akira ("Ko") Fujiura was a lyricist and poet who worked for Japan's Columbia Records.

The show is referenced in E343  when the Secret of one of the contestants is that he appeared on this version of the show while in Japan.  In that episode, it's mentioned that the Japanese show isn't licensed from the original US version.  They just copied it. This was a common practice in the days before global satellite distribution and international copyrights.

On December 21, 1964, American Colonel Dean Hartley appeared on Watashi no Himitsu, and kept photos from his experience! Colonel Hartley was a collector of Japanese artifacts, and his secret was that he was returning a sword he'd purchased from a Washington DC antique store to its previous owner, a retired Japanese general.  Also featured on the show was the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing Band, which performed Christmas carols.  You can read much more about Colonel Hartley's experiences on a website his son made devoted to his life. The pictures below come from this page and are used here with the kind permission of Dr Dean S Hartley III, to whom we are grateful.

Finally, the image below comes from a magazine that appears to be about the series.  We don't know a lot abut it, we only have the image.  However, our friend Josh Woo (who, frankly, is responsible for most of the details on this page) is pretty sure that the fellow on the far left is sumo wrestler Wakanohana Kanji I, who would have been the guest panelist when this photo was taken.