Columbo In Japan
Many thanks to Yuko Kokubu and Napoben for the information and pictures
Columbo has fans all around the world, but he enjoys a very special popularity in Japan.
"Columbo" has been broadcast in Japan since 1972, and can still be seen,
although not often, on Japanese television. Ratings have always been high, sometimes
drawing over one-fourth of all television viewers.
Japanese "Columbo" fans can purchase a wide selection of the episodes on
videotape, including a number of episodes never made available commercially in the United
States. The cover graphics are imaginative and amusing, clearly showing that Japanese fans
have an appreciation for Columbo's sense of humor.
And Japan also has something never released in the Wesern world: Boxed sets of
"Columbo" on laser discs. There are 6 volumes of boxes, with a total of 26
episodes, which are valuable collectors items when they can be found for sale
In addition, most of the "Columbo" episodes have been adapted and
published as novels in Japan, starting in 1974. "First Editions" of these
books are sometimes available in used book stores, commanding very high prices.
"The Columbo Phile," Mark Dawidziak's definitive book on the NBC series,
is published in Japan under the name "Columbo's Himitsu," which literally
translates as "Columbo's Secret".
When "Columbo" is dubbed for Japanese viewers, the voices of the murderers
and guest stars are supplied by well-known Japanese actors.
To Japanese "Columbo" fans, the original voice of Columbo was the popular
actor Asao Koike. Mr. Koike did not specifically imitate the raspy voice of
Peter Falk -- rather, he gives Columbo a sound that seems younger and perhaps
more clearly intelligent than Columbo's usual pretended innocence.
When Asao Koike died in 1985, many Japanese fans felt they had lost the true
voice of Columbo. In new episodes, the voice of Columbo is Taro Ishida, who
attempts to closely imitate Mr. Koike.
Click here to see a RealVideo clip of Columbo from Japan
Columbo even appears in Japanese magazine advertisements. In these ads for
Toyota Corolla, it looks as though Columbo might actually be shopping for a new car.
For a further look at how "Columbo" is seen by his fans in Japan, visit the
Japanese "Columbo" website -- the name translates as The
Cheap Cigar Club
Columbo Ashes to Ashes Book