YouTube is the world’s most searched for website and has well over a billion users. Japan’s YouTubers may be still far behind their international rivals (the world’s most famous YouTuber, PewDiePie, has around 103 million subscribers…), but they’re up there in the millions, and there are signs that they’re breaking into mainstream pop culture.
So, who are the up and coming names, and what are they vlogging about?
10.2 Million Subscribers
Hajime Syacho has the largest number of YouTube subscribers in Japan, with three channels where he films everything from experiments to hidden camera skits, Q&As to product reviews, as well as lifestyle videos and promos.
As well as YouTube, he also has one of the biggest Twitter followings in Japan.
Plus, since 2015, he’s held the Guinness World Record for playing a traditional Japanese game called ‘Darumasan ga koronda’ with 740 people simultaneously.
10.7 Million Subscribers
Hikakin is one of the co-founders of UUUM, a Japanese multi-channel network. UUUM works with more than 3,500 YouTubers in Japan, working with around 500 Japanese brands, crafting entertainment content around products.
Hikakin’s YouTube career started early – in high school, he became one of the first content creators on the platform in Japan, doing beatbox covers and tutorials. In 2010, a video of his Super Mario Bros. beatbox went viral, with over 3.8 million views.
His collaboration on a beatboxing video of Baby I with Ariana Grande (who has 39.9 million subscribers herself) from 2014 has clocked up over 10 million views and he’s also performed with Ne-Yo.
5.4 Million Subscribers
Yuka is Japan’s most subscribed female YouTuber, and specialises in Mukbang videos – ie, eating loads of food.
She used to be a ‘competitive eater’ and started her channel in 2014. Yuka’s also a breakthrough content creator on Weibo, the Chinese microblogging site, with over 800,000 fans.
Her videos have garnered more than 2 billion views – probably helped by the fact that they feature English subtitles. She could certainly go pound for pound with Man v. Food’s Adam Richman.
7.3 Million Subscribers
The seven members of the Fischer’s team aim to upload their comedy and prank videos daily, and are planning to learn English in order to increase the reach and audience for their OTT antics and slapstick comedy.
In 2019, they broke a Guinness World Record for the largest game of tag, made up of 10,908 people.
4.3 Million Subscribers
Seikin is Hikakin’s older brother and his main channel focuses on his daily life, whereas on SeikinGames, he plays a variety of games.
Dubbed ‘the master of product reviews’, Seikin gives his views on everything from prams to chocolate molds, together with comedy sketches and DIY project tutorials.
In 215, Seikin collaborated with Japanese pop band Kobukuro, and the YouTube Theme Song he composed together with his brother Hikakin has become the most viewed music video made by a YouTuber in Japan.
Asahi was Japan’s first beauty vlogger, and has since created a mix of fashion, hair, nails, everyday makeup tutorials and stunning transformation videos – changing herself into a Japanese empress, a horror doll and a Ninja Turtle amongst other things.
On her channel ‘sasakiasahivlog’, she talks about her daily life and plays games.
Self-taught from YouTube and fashion magazines, she prides herself on using affordable beauty products. This Vintage Doll demo has had nearly 27 million views since 2014.
Kan & Aki’s Channel
3.4 Million Subscribers
Aimed at families and kids, three tomboyish young sisters, Kanna, Akira and Asahi (the channel was named before Asahi was born), film segments about new toys and their trips to different places.
Launched in 2010, the channel’s scored well over 6.5 billion views.
6.4 Million Subscribers
The six members of Tokai Onair went to the same high school in Okazaki city, and have been appointed as official tourism ambassadors for their hometown, despite their videos being a bit crazy, and a bit rude.
This one is about the ‘left-side steering wheel parking machine race’:
4.7 Million Subscribers
Hikaru is famed for his big budget, unconventional dark comedy videos. He also features fun retellings of urban legends and supernatural experiences.
His channel Hikaru Games shows him playing popular Japanese games.
Sushi Ramen (Riku)
6 Million Subscribers
Riku Horiuchi (aka Sushi Ramen [Riku]), makes experimental videos on his main channel, featuring extreme challenges and stunts, reminiscent of Jackass.
3 Million Subscribers
MosoGourmet was created by an ordinary Japanese family and is described as ‘oddly satisfying’ with ‘subtle humour’.
Their Giant Oreo Cake video entices you to ‘please watch while you worry, “is the hand mixer going to break?”’
1 Million Subscribers
Duncan Ryunosuke Pain is better known online as PDR and is married to fellow YouTuber Mimei, while his brother Dante runs the channel PDSKabushikiGaisha.
Half Japanese and half English, Duncan posts his vlogs and pranks in Japanese, with English subtitles (he also has an English-language vlog called Just Duncan).
4 Million Subscribers
More comedy from Kanta and Tommy, who started their channel while studying at university. Their daily videos range from pranks to experiments to exploring urban legends.
Their fried rice prank video has clocked up over 11 million views. Proof of their popularity is that they play themselves in Sadako, the sequel to the Ring, Japan’s No. 1 horror film.
This time, the curse is spread after a video is posted on a streaming site.
1.5 Million Subscribers
PDS is Dante, PDR’s brother who, after experimenting with cooking videos, original songs and unboxing, has now found his niche in bodybuilding and workout-related content.
1.8 Million Subscribers
Kazu grew up in Fukui prefecture in the Japanese countryside, and had his big breakthrough with a time-lapse diet video.
He vlogs about everything from tech reviews to cooking and gaming – as well as documenting building his own house.
1.3 Million Subscribers
Risa Sekine is said to be the first YouTuber in Japan to have made a million dollars on her beauty channel, SekineRisa.
Cooking with Dog
1.6 Million Subscribers
Cooking with Dog features canine host Francis (a very cute grey poodle) and a mysterious, unnamed Japanese chef. While Chef cooks a variety of popular Japanese dishes, Francis sat next to her, narrating the recipes in heavily-accented English.
Francis unfortunately passed away in 2016, so is now represented by a soft toy sitting on the counter, but you can still hear his ‘voice’. The show began in 2007 and there’s a new recipe every weekend.
Suzukawa is a family-oriented mother who loves her kids and cars.
Her videos range from visiting museums with her children, to assembling models of toy trains.
Melodee is a TV reporter and director who, along with travel videos, features tips on how to eat and exercise to maintain a healthy lifestyle, and on acting.
That Japanese Man Yuta
1.2 Million Subscribers
Yuta Aoki is a Japanese man who ‘created’ his own method to learn English after being rejected for a scholarship in the US.
In his videos, he goes out on the streets and interviews people about different topics, to allow viewers to understand what Japanese people really think.
Need inspiration for video content for sport, culture, beauty or humour with a Japanese flavour? Check out our Sounds of Japan collection, which feature a blend of traditional and contemporary Japanese instruments and music.
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