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  • "Salted Egg Flavor Potato Chips"

  • It should work, but it doesn't.

  • You might be thinking, "It must be nice. A kind of savory salty flavor."

  • But, in fact, it tastes like somebody dropped a bag of sugar over some potatoes

  • and the end result is...

  • Disappointment.

  • This was supposed to be my reward for a job-well-done today on my

  • 1980s Japanese living room. Which I've spent all afternoon working on.

  • It's a reward that now feels somewhat redundant.

  • Nevertheless, check out the actual working retro television in the corner over there.

  • Admittedly, when I did plug it in earlier, I did think I hope it doesn't show real

  • Japanese television because nobody deserves to watch that.

  • Maybe let me think to yourself. Well, ...

  • Eh?

  • Now right about now you might be thinking,

  • "Wait a minute. Did you just say bad things about Japanese television?"

  • "Japanese TV is amazing!"

  • "And I hate anyone who says otherwise!"

  • "What about Takeshi's Castle? The game show where people fall over in the mud for our amusement?"

  • "Or what about the show where the guy eats a door handle?"

  • "An actual door handle. And he eats it."

  • It's probably the best thing I've ever seen.

  • A hilarious act that,

  • probably wouldn't go down very well anymore...

  • But what if one of the greatest myths about Japan to the outside world is that

  • Japanese TV is actually good.

  • Because while people falling over in the mud or eating door handles is undeniably great entertainment. I can't deny that.

  • Unfortunately, the reality is quite the opposite.

  • Now over the years by virtue of having lived here and done this I've found myself on both sides of the screen

  • both as a bemused viewer and as a bemused participant

  • TV Host: "Good morning!"

  • "Good morning! Thanks"

  • "Are you, YOUTUBER?"

  • "I am"

  • And I've somehow ended up on TV around half a dozen times.

  • Including Japan's biggest morning breakfast show, "Mezumashi TV"

  • Thanks to the horrific behavior of YouTube Supervillain Logan Paul. Which we'll get onto in a minute

  • I've always wanted to make a video talking about those somewhat awkward experiences and

  • breaking down the aforementioned myth.

  • But I didn't find the real motivation to do that up until a few weeks ago

  • when a TV show here aired a segment that

  • beautifully personified everything wrong with Japanese TV in about 10 seconds

  • Shrewd TV pundits of one of japan's biggest channels were discussing why in hell the number of cases of Covid-19 were so low in Japan

  • when a groundbreaking theory was put forward suggesting it's something to do with the Japanese language itself.

  • Was it because the Japanese language is more "elegant" and "softly spoken?"

  • a test subject stood before a tissue and said the phrase,

  • "Kore ha pen desu." Literally "This is a pen."

  • to measure the exhalation of air and any potential virus riddled spit as she spoke.

  • Upon speaking the phrase in Japanese the tissue barely moved.

  • A testament to the refined and superior nature of the language.

  • Next though, came English. And that's when things got really scary

  • The sheer destructive force of saying, "this is a pen" in English blasted the tissue away

  • A testament to the crude, abrasive nature of the English language.

  • Cue the reaction from the enthralled commentator stuffed inside a tiny box!

  • The writing was on the wall for the English language and for the letter P

  • And I think we can all agree looking at the results of this, objective and meticulous scientific experiment,

  • The results are abundantly clear.

  • Was there a lack of cases in Japan due to the wide adoption of face masks or an absence of mass testing?

  • No! It could only be "Kore ha pen desu." This is a pen!

  • I know for a fact because I've done the experiment myself. So I know it's true.

  • Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled-

  • To be honest,

  • I'm as guilty as anyone else at believing that Japanese TV was on another level before I came here

  • Like a lot of people, I grew up watching reruns of Takeshi's Castle

  • A gameshow in which around the hundred willing participants battled their way through

  • increasingly sinister obstacles in order to take the castle and beat takeshi himself

  • It was ludicrously hard. In 133 episodes,

  • Only eight contestants ever actually took the castle and won the grand prize of a million yen.

  • A grand prize that wasn't really so grand when you converted it into dollars and pounds.

  • Especially given the questionable scenarios the contestants have put themselves through

  • The winnings probably wouldn't cover the cost of the health insurance claims.

  • Nevertheless, I've given many reasons over the years as to why I moved to Japan

  • Cultural exchange, learning a language, becoming an English teacher. But it was all a lie.

  • The real reason was, I just wanted to be on Takeshi's Castle.

  • So you can probably imagine my horror and despair when I started working as an English teacher

  • My students asked me one day, "Chris sensei, what's your favorite Japanese TV show?" and I thought yes

  • This is my chance to show off to show that I've actually watched a Japanese TV show

  • So I sort of said, "well, I like to watch Takeshi's Castle! Yaaa!"

  • Ya...

  • Uh, no. I was met with a deafening silence because none of my sixteen year old students had seen it

  • apart from my 50 year old colleague who fondly remembered it and gave a it a

  • nostalgic grin. Because it turns out takeshi's castle finished broadcasting in

  • 1989

  • One year before I was even born!

  • The truth is, that outlandish wacky game shows that most people know about

  • are very few and far between

  • Spectacularly rare and difficult to find.

  • People often ask me, "Oh, you must watch that show Candy or Not Candy."

  • The one where people walk into a room and start eating random objects to see if it's candy or not

  • You must have seen the guy's stuff a shoe into his mouth or the lady munch on a delicious tasty table

  • And of course I have it's ingenious its glorious and it's also a half-hour segment for a TV show broadcast six years ago.

  • It's not an ongoing series. Although, it definitely should be.

  • It's just a funny thing that happened once in 2014

  • and its been repeated so much that people think this is what Japanese TV looks like

  • So far, we've heard what Japanese TV isn't. We've heard the expectations. But what is the reality?

  • What is it actually like and why do I avoid going on it?

  • Imagine if you were to switch your TV on right now outside of Japan, what would you expect to find?

  • Drama! Attention! Suspense!

  • Im right, you're not!

  • Views, debates, conflict. It's what we crave in the West.

  • We want to be angry. We want to be uncomfortable.

  • Fucking donkeys!

  • It's not Gordon Ramsay's Fun Kitchen, It's Gordon Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares!

  • It's not the Everyones a Winner Factor, it's called the X Factor!

  • And you haven't got it!

  • ha ha har

  • "Terrible"

  • But then again, he doesn't exactly have it either.

  • We want cretins! We want sycophants! We want monsters!

  • We love it and we watch it over and over and over

  • Now imagine you wake up tomorrow morning switch on the TV and everyone is exceptionally happy

  • "Look at this!"

  • Everyone: "Eeeeeeeh!"

  • "Wow!"

  • "Delicious~"

  • There's no criticism. There's no negativity.

  • Just everyone is happy and positive. In an almost uncomfortably utopian manner.

  • Imagine an episode of Gordon Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares

  • where he walks into a restaurant, is sat before a dish, and instead of saying the usual phrases like

  • "It looks like a dog's been sick. Where's the men sauce?"

  • Imagine if instead he just said, "Wow! That's delicious!"

  • "Ooh amazing! Wow, it's so good."

  • "It's delicious."

  • "Wow!"

  • As a one-off, it might be acceptable

  • but imagine if he then did that not once or twice, but every single time, in every single episode

  • "Wow! It's delicious! Amazing!"

  • No other constructive criticism

  • No other comments. Just blind superficially positive statements repeated

  • over and over and over as if someone was threatening him secretly

  • off-screen to act that way. And that is what Japanese TV is like and for once I am not exaggerating

  • "Amazing!"

  • "eh!"

  • "UUOOOO!"

  • It has a very fake dumbed down feel to it where presenters are forced to display a

  • disturbingly theatrical enthusiasm towards the most utterly mundane things

  • Now yesterday I did something unspeakable.

  • I sat down actually watched some Japanese television and I did my own meticulous scientific experiment

  • Just like "Kore ha pen desu."

  • Where I went through some programs to see if there are any key traits or attributes that they all hand.

  • And I boiled it down to four points and the four points are:

  • Number One: Every show requires hyperbolic language

  • where everything is "sugoi" meaning "incredible"

  • or "Oishii" meaning "delicious."

  • Or in some cases, "Umai" which means "really delicious."

  • Number Two: You need lots of canned sound effects

  • Every action on-screen must be accompanied by some sort comical cartoon sound effect

  • The sound you hear the most though is

  • "heeeeeee"

  • which kind of means like "whaaat?"

  • The sound is so ubiquitous that it's actually put in post-production. They'll have a studio sound of all the audience going

  • *tons of people saying "heeeee"*

  • Stage Three is: The entire screen needs to be drenched from top to bottom in text

  • And finally, of course is stage 4. The infamous reaction box were

  • Enthusiastic presenter is forced to look on and deliver a relentless positive appraisal of everything happening on screen

  • and to give you a quick example of all those things combined let's now do a

  • horrifying simulation of what the Abroad in Japan channel would look like if it were on Japanese television

  • Yeah, again, they taste dreadful.

  • It should be illegal. It should be a crime to brand something as salted when it actually tastes sweet.

  • I can't be doing with that.

  • But congratulations guys! You've just watched every Japanese TV show about food ever. Well done!

  • Now, you know the kind of performance and sheer excitement required to go on Japanese TV.

  • You can probably realize why I don't enjoy doing it very much which takes us through to my own awkward experiences.

  • The first time I featured on Japanese TV was during the brexit vote in 2016 when a local TV station

  • Wanted to interview a British person and get an expert

  • "Expert opinion" on what was happening

  • Basically, an interview twice once on the day of the vote and once on the day the results

  • The TV crew came over and after

  • discovering that I was a

  • Youtuber for some reason they wanted me to hold a camera in the frame just randomly in the apartment because that's you know

  • That's what YouTubers do isn't it

  • Apparently

  • And they also wanted me to pull a face while I was doing it

  • The end result was I ended up looking like a fucking murderer

  • I was then asked if I thought Brexit would actually happen at which I said no, of course

  • It won't

  • Never in a thousand years

  • The bonds are too strong economically between the UK and the European Union.

  • And economic benefits aside,

  • There was also the bond of mutual respect. A bond that was, quite simply,

  • Unbreakable.

  • Anyway the next day we left the EU.

  • And the TV crew came round again

  • Now I was a bit disappointed by the results and

  • surprised above all. But the TV crew really wanted me to exaggerate my reaction as if the world itself was coming to an end

  • I was asked to glare at the laptop screen clasping my mouth in shock, biting my fingers in despair as I nursed a mournful expression

  • And naturally because I'm a YouTuber I was forced to do it over the camera stuck next to me on the desk all the while

  • You know just like I always do. I don't know how I've got so far into a video without not having a

  • Camera in shot. Whats going on?

  • Anyway, despite the experience of looking like a murderer on Japanese TV though,

  • one year later

  • when one of the country's biggest TV channels reached out to me

  • and asked me to feature on a show eating the local cuisine of North Japan

  • I of course said yes and jumped at the chance and the prospect of fame and glory

  • Beyond my wildest dreams. Best of all it was all filmed in English. So I thought I could be myself a bit more

  • This also meant the entire show had a chillingly robotic English voice over.

  • "Japan"

  • "A land of four seasons and bountiful nature"

  • Ah, fuck ya! Bountiful nature bring it on!

  • Now I thought would be eating something good like pork or fish or a cheeky bowl of ramen which the region is famous for

  • Instead however, it turned out Id being eating nothing but vegetables

  • Clearly they hired the wrong guy for the job as I was quickly handed an assortment of pickles and

  • told to give a big happy face and reaction as I ate them, which I then inevitably failed to do

  • In a desperate attempt to elicit some kind of performance though

  • they secretly

  • Sneakily drenched some of the pickles in this extremely spicy mustard and then rather than pretending to enjoy the experience

  • I had to actively hide the fact that I was in pain.

  • "Oh my god"

  • "It is quite spicy"

  • In reality, I wanted to say holy fuck it tastes like someone's put a flamethrower in my mouth

  • But instead I had to sit there and go, "Oh, it's delicious. It's amazing. Bountiful nature."

  • Absolute bloody torture

  • But the worst scene was on a farm where I had to eat some edamame soybeans in front of the kind elderly farmer who,

  • So painstakingly cultivated them only for me to turn up and fail to show them the appreciation

  • they so sorely deserved.

  • Now odds are if you've been to a Japanese restaurant,

  • You have had edamame soybeans at some point and they are very nice or a great start or a great side dish

  • You can't beat it

  • But the variety of edamame that I was trying onscreen were actually called "dadachamame"

  • Which are well just edamame with a different name. There's no literal difference

  • However, for 40 minutes we stood in the field as I had to painstakingly describe the difference between

  • Edamame and Dadachamame, even though there was no difference whatsoever

  • I had to make it up and I could not do it over and over about 15 times

  • the producers tried to put words in my mouth and try and get me to

  • See the difference that wasn't there. Like to give you some example, imagine you took a crisp, right?

  • You split it in half I ask you to eat this one

  • And then I ask you to eat this one and then compare the difference on

  • Camera for 40 minutes in a field on a hot summer's day and I just couldn't do it and throughout the whole ludicrous situation

  • The nice kind elderly woman just stood there but mused wondering what the hell was going on.

  • In the end, They just gave up and turned the entire 40 minute ordeal into a 10-second sequence and just quietly and awkwardly