I have a job that requires me to sit at a desk for long periods of time, inputting data into a computer, with no human interaction. (I quite like my job.) I used to listen to music on my iPod Shuffle as I worked. (I still do listen to my iPod occasionally, even now.)
Every once in a while, I’d get tired of the same old music on my playlist, and I’d seek out new music on YouTube. When our laptop (the one with iTunes installed on it) lost its Clear internet connection, and I got tired of carrying the laptop over to the library or to Top Pot, I wasn’t adding any new songs to my iPod. I began using my iPod less often at work, and listening to music on YouTube more.
Eventually, I learned that there’s more than music on YouTube. I found old TV shows, travel videos, science programs, and video gaming channels. I discovered a YouTube channel run by a guy called Keralis. Among other things, he’d play Euro Truck Simulator. These videos were perfect for listening to while inputting data. It was just 40 to 60 minutes of a simulated truck driving down a simulated freeway, while Keralis talked about life in general. I didn’t have to pay attention – I could just listen. (Keralis, who now earns a living from making YouTube videos, was born in Poland, but now lives in Sweden. He won’t reveal his real name, but he has shown his viewers exactly where he lives, which – I would learn later – is exactly the opposite of how YouTubers tend to operate.) Keralis played other computer games as well, but it was his Euro Truck Simulator videos that I kept coming back to.
After a while, I began listening to YouTube videos of games I actually played, namely Kerbal Space Program, Cities: Skylines, and The Sims 4, even if they weren’t played by Keralis. My iPod Shuffle was rapidly losing its popularity with me.
Then I bought my first smart phone. A smart phones needs apps to actually be a smart phone, and, for an Android phone, downloading apps requires a Google account. And my Google account gave me a YouTube account.
With my YouTube account, I began officially Liking the videos I liked. I officially subscribed to Keralis’ channel. I subscribed to a few other channels I enjoyed. I got notifications whenever new videos had been uploaded to the channels I’d subscribed to.
I put a link to YouTube on my browser at home, so I could actually watch the videos I’d listened to at work. YouTube became my new television.
I became a YouTube fanatic.
Watching YouTube videos can, and often does, lead me to unexpected places. Sometimes the videos on the sidebar would relate to the video I was playing. Sometimes they would be videos I’d played in the past. Sometimes they seem to be unrelated to anything.
Somehow, I found a YouTube channel named Texan in Tokyo. (Or maybe it found me. I don’t remember.) It was a channel of day-in-the-life style videos of a couple living in Japan. Grace was the Texan. Ryosuke was native Japanese. I was fascinated. I’d never seen videos like these. I wanted to subscribe to their channel. Unfortunately, I discovered Texan in Tokyo right after Grace and Ryosuke decided to leave YouTube. I wrote about my discovery here. Fortunately, they left their channel, and all its videos, online.
I discovered that Texan in Tokyo was not unique. There’s a whole genre of “foreigners living in Japan” YouTube channels out there. There’s a lot of cross-promotion that goes on, too. (“Hello, everyone. Today I’m visiting Tokyo Tower with my friend Rachel, from Rachel and Jun. You can find a link to her channel below.”)
I love these “my life in Japan” video channels. (I’m sure there are channels by ex-pats in other countries, too, but I haven’t yet discovered the right search term to find them.) There are a lot of them out there, some I haven’t yet investigated, some I don’t especially care for, but here are my current favorites.
Rachel and Jun: Rachel is from America. Jun is Japanese. Their videos are mostly about their home life. (Jun has a cooking channel of his own.) Occasionally, they will make videos of their travels around Japan (mostly sponsored by travel companies). They make humorous “how to live in Japan” and “the differences between America and Japan” videos.
Tokidoki Traveller: Emma is a single woman from Australia, living on her own in Tokyo. She does freelance modeling, and other freelance work. There’s no telling how much longer she’ll be in Japan. Her videos are very personal stories of her life and adventures in Japan.
The Uwaga Pies: Kris is Polish. Kasia was born in America, with Polish parents. They met in Japan. Their earlier videos were about the street life and parties in Tokyo. They’ve broadened their subject matter somewhat. (Some of their videos are in Polish.) I have never seen either of them cook – in many ways The Uwaga Pies is the opposite of Rachel and Jun.
I discovered Rachel and Jun from Texan in Tokyo. I discovered Tokidoki Traveller from a random video about tiny apartments in Japan. (It was Emma’s apartment.) I discovered The Uwaga Pies from Tokidoki Traveller.
An interesting thing happened recently. I was listening to a series of videos from The Uwaga Pies about a vacation Kris and Kasia took to Okinawa. They went with several other people, including Rachel and Jun. They all stayed in a large hotel room. Kasia gave us a tour of the hotel room.
Later, I became curious about what Rachel and Jun had covered about that same vacation. In one part, Rachel gave us a tour of their large hotel room. As she passed the bathroom, I could see (and hear) Kasia giving her tour of the hotel room.
Back when we still had cable TV, there were a few reality shows I would tune into. Even though I knew they were scripted, they were, at least, close to reality. These “life in Japan” videos are giving me what I was trying to find on television. I was thinking about this today.