Vlogger winning over China
Feb. 1, 2018
Record numbers of Chinese are now visiting Japan. Last year, more than 7 million arrived. Many come for the shopping and pop culture but, increasingly, they're expressing a greater curiosity about the country. A Japanese vlogger has become a surprise hit in China with his videos showing the ordinary side of life in Japan.
Kosuke Niino uploads clips of himself onto a Chinese video sharing site almost every day. He shares aspects of Japanese life with Chinese people.
In one clip, he explains what TV programs Japanese people like to watch on New Year's eve.
"There's a famous show that is broadcast every year," he says. "It's a singing competition between a red and a white team."
On average his video clips receive about 1 million views. The total number of views for all his videos now exceeds 300 million.
"I'm trying to choose subjects that are not so special to us Japanese, but which people in China would like to know about," he says. "I try to do this in a casual manner, as though I were talking to a friend."
Kosuke began posting his videos 4 years ago while studying in Beijing.
At the time, relations between China and Japan were strained, but Kosuke was able to connect with Chinese people.
Every day, he uploaded clips, in which he could be seen sampling specialties from around China.
"Today, I'm going to sample spicy Chinese dishes," he says in one.
Somewhat unexpectedly, Kosuke's frank observations have made the videos quite popular.
Many viewers have posted their own responses, and he has started communicating with them.
After he returned to Japan, he got a job at a consulting firm. He started helping restaurateurs and other business people who were trying to make inroads in China.
Business owners are not the only people who value Kosuke's ability to get the message out.
The all-female Japanese pop group Dreaming Monster is hoping to break through in China this year.
The group's members have begun learning Chinese, and they have asked Kosuke to create a promotional video for them.
"They are really good at acting in ways that Japanese people think are cute," he says. "But sometimes the behavior seems forced. In China, it's better to be natural."
"We have guests today: Dreaming Monster!" Kosuke is featuring the group on a video.
He decides to start with an "eating" clip, which is always a favorite.
The group receives a question from a viewer.
"Why do many Japanese girls have dental irregularities、such as high canine teeth?"
In the Chinese entertainment industry, female entertainers would have such irregularities corrected. Kosuke lets the girls express their feelings about the cultural difference.
"I think it makes you cuter," says one.
"Some people even use false teeth to look cuter," says another.
After the video was uploaded, it quickly received more than one million hits.
"I hope that the group and I can team up and do many fun things together," Kosuke says.
They are planning to go to China for a live performance in April. He hopes to continue building bridges between the two countries through his simple yet informative clips.