Ah, and speaking about that first commercial, this is what I heard and, sometimes if I were willing to open my eyes early enough, saw:
It was an ad for Nippon Express, and at the time I had thought that Nittsu put out a particularly cute commercial with a bunch of old-style puppets. Give Marketing that extra bonus!
Little did I know at the time that the jingle I heard morning after morning was actually not a jingle at all, but a theme song for a beloved 1960s afternoon children's show titled "Hyokkori Hyotanjima" (Island of Unexpected Contradictions) with those old-style puppets. Debuting in 1964 for a 5-year run, Yoko Maekawa and the Hibari Children Chorus（前川陽子とひばり児童合唱団）sang the chirpy theme for the NHK program. It was written by the creators, Hisashi Inoue and Morihisa Yamamoto（井上ひさし・山元護久）, and composed by Seiichiro Uno（宇野誠一郎）.
My interest in the music of Morning Musume（モーニング娘。）had already waned by 2003 with my last purchase of an MM single being the snazzy and jazzy "Mr. Moonlight" in 2001. Still I was reminded of my Gunma morning ritual when the girl group went ahead to give their own longer and more revved-up version of the theme song titled "Morning Musume no Hyokkori Hyōtanjima" as their 17th single in February of that year. The video was appropriately adorable with the usual choreography and camera close-ups of every member. And I just thought that petite Mari Yaguchi's voice dropped down a fair bit to speak her English at the beginning.
The single went Gold and peaked at No. 4 on Oricon.
Some time after the 2011 earthquake, this heartwarming ad for Toyota came on TV featuring SMAP member Takuya Kimura（木村拓哉）, comedian Tsurube Shofukutei（笑福亭鶴瓶）and director Beat Takeshi（ビートたけし）with "Hyokkori Hyotanjima" as an overarching theme. The gimmick had the three being re-born versions of famous figures from Japanese history.