Za Gaman (ザ・ガマン?) "The Endurance" was a Japanese television show from the 1980s. It is not particularly well known or remembered in Japan, but it became famous in other countries, particularly Britain, due to its appearance on the British television programmes Clive James on Television, and subsequently Tarrant on TV under the name Endurance.
The programme was a version of an activity at Japanese universities, the gaman taikai or "endurance contest", similar to rag week in the UK, where students try to outdo each other in withstanding unpleasant experiences. The TV programme featured teams from "name" universities such as Keio University who were subjected to various unpleasant ordeals such as being buried up to the neck in sand or licked by reptiles. The winner was the person who endured the longest.
Short segments of the programme were used in the British television shows, which humorously examined television programmes from around the world. Following Clive James on Television, clips from the now-defunct show were also used in the nineties in Tarrant on TV. A very short-lived British version of the show was also created, hosted by Paul Ross, but it did not feature the extreme conditions of the original programme. Only two series of the British version were produced for Challenge TV which first aired from 1997 to 1998, and it was not a success.
The use of the clips on the Clive James show created some controversy, with some Japanese feeling that the show was unrepresentative, and some British former prisoners-of-war of the Japanese also complained about the contents. Clive James went on to write a novel Brrm! Brrm!, with a Japanese lead character, Akira Suzuki, who was made fun of by his British friends using the word "endurance".
This programme made the Guinness Book of World Records for "Most Extreme Game Show".