"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...
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, ...
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?"
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!"
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
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.
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
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!"
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."
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
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
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
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
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,
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.
"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
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
Faded me out while I was still speaking
The difference here is it's kind of juicier
"The secret of these delicious beans is in the seeds"
Six months after my disastrous performance reviewing soybeans and pickles
I found myself on Japan's biggest morning show Mezumashi TV after the universally beloved
Youtuber logan paul came to japan for a few days and left a trail of destruction
They included filming a corpse of a recently deceased individual and throwing pokemon balls at Japanese police officers
You know, like you do.
As both a youtuber and a foreigner living in Japan
I was summoned to deliver a scathing verdict and seemingly defend every foreign YouTuber in the world ever.
The TV crew came to my apartment, sat on the floor, and I repeated the phrase,
I am shocked and angry about four times before they went back on the train to Tokyo
And of course because I'm a YouTuber I had to set up my camera in the background again because that's what
Youtubers do. But despite the serious subject nature it all had a bit of a wacky
Vibe to it when the presenter knocked on my front door and insisted on doing this
Are you youtuber?
To this day, it remains the greatest thing anyone's ever said to me when I've opened my front door
so at this point you might be wondering why is
Japanese TV this way and ironically the reason TV so bad is also the same reason living in Japan is so good
it's no secret that Japan is one of the most polite cultures on earth where people are very reserved and
Appreciative things and food and people around them. What you're seeing on screen is essentially a reflection of everyday life in Japan that's been grossly exagerated
and as much as I would love the Gordon Ramsay to do a season of Kitchen Nightmares in Japan
It's simply an equation that just doesn't work. If Gordon Ramsay walked into a restaurant here and went "Oh! It's disgusting
It's like a donkey's been sick." It just wouldn't go down well. It would be incredibly rude the chef would be mortified and humiliated
There would probably be some sort unpleasant altercation.
The viewers would just feel deeply uncomfortable as opposed to feeling entertained
You might be thinking at this point
You just don't get it because you're foreign right and that might be fair enough to come from Western television to Japanese
Television is a jar in transition
A recent study showed even 18 to 29 year olds in Japan are losing interest in TV
twelve percent don't watch TV at all any more in favor of streaming platforms and video games and that is a trend that's been
Increasing over the years and while I'll continue to avoid watching it except for as a background noise on long lonely nights in hotel rooms
Even I have to admit Japan just wouldn't be Japan without it
it is so otherworldly in its presentation and
You've got to sit at least once or twice if you come in I put it on check it out
It's a cultural experience unto itself
So, what do you reckon am I exaggerating is Japanese TV really as bad as I've made out
Let me know in the comments below but that's it for now. For more behind the scenes content
Check out the abroad in Japan patreon, but as always guys, many thanks for watching
I'll see you next time and now it's time to tune in to my new favorite TV show. It's just starting