Japan has its own entourage of internet celebrities and online influencers, but perhaps none are as well known as Hikakin. Famous for beatboxing and vocalized sound effects, his HikakinTV channel boasts over eight million subscribers. His playlists include over-acted comedy skits and let's plays among other media content. Yet, in a COVID-19 world, everything is topsy turvy. The slapstick YouTuber recently sat down for a serious, albeit rare, online interview with Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike.

History of Hikakin

Hikakin began his career as a viral sensation: his 2010 beatboxing video received millions of views in a short period. It's an impressive video which you can see below:

Not long after, he quit his day job and began focusing entirely on his Hikakin YouTube channel. He released his first album in 2012 with famous video game composer Hideki Sakamoto. Over the following years, he worked with several musicians, including Ariana Grande. In the meantime, he became one of the most prominent YouTubers in Japan.

A Taste of his Content

Over that time, the content on his channel diversified. The YouTuber began releasing videos on a second channel, HikakinTV, in 2011. HikakinTV, as well as HikakinGames, has since then eclipsed his original channel in terms of subscribers.

A majority of Hikakin's content is reminiscent of Japanese TV. Like a one-man variety show, the vlogger showcases several products relevant to online culture. Here is one of his most popular videos to date:

As you can see, he went on a private tour of Sanrio Puroland with fellow YouTuber Himawari and her two daughters. The girls must be thrilled; they have the park to themselves.

Hikakin is also famous for demo videos that often feature his outlandish, slapstick reactions. Here is another popular video, the vlogger's impersonations of strange customers that used to visit a supermarket he worked at:

He also did an all-you-can-eat challenge video with fellow YouTuber Yuka Kinoshita. We recently featured the petite vlogger and her sumo-sized appetite here. Check out the duo’s video where they eat a 2.5 kg jumbo gyoza dumpling below:

I have to admit I originally stumbled upon Hikakin some years back. When I was feeling lazy, but still productive, I used his Minecraft let's play videos as Japanese practice. I don't know how educational the content is, but for me, it was enjoyable. Here's a good episode with Hikakin visiting his friend Tomo's very elaborate world complete with a roller coaster:

The Big Leagues

Under the current crisis, there is a clear need to disseminate information. While traditional media likely serves older residents, younger netizens tune into different things. Tokyo governor Yuriko Koike is aware of this. As such, she agreed to be interviewed by the YouTube megastar about the coronavirus, social distancing, and the plan moving forward. I’ll paraphrase below.

Hikakin has been promoting the hashtag #stayhome. As a young YouTuber, his platform provides ample means to disseminate information pertinent to the COVID-19 pandemic. As such, he had many questions for the governor.

Hikakin begins by asking what viewers can do during the lockdown situation. Koike responds, noting that there is a lot of advice out there, but the most important thing is for everyone to stay home. Of course, people will have to leave for essential shopping, that's not a problem, but outside of obtaining the necessities, residents should stay home.

Koike goes on to explain her three “take-home” warnings for the lockdown: 密集 (gatherings), 密閉 (closing), and 密接 (personal space). These three points should be avoided, the governor continued. Viewers should refrain from public gatherings, keep windows open (for ventilation), and practice social distancing.

She also says that people who think they may have contracted the disease should contact their family physician by phone. Residents should not go directly to the hospital or clinic to avoid infecting others.

Hikakin continues by noting that the number of infected young people has been rising recently. He asks what young people should be concerned about. Koike reminds young people that they are not immune and that the number of infections is indeed growing. Like everyone, young people should heed the stay at home advisory. While some young people may be asymptomatic, there is a significant number in critical condition. The government is currently working to limit this number.

Continuing about the lockdown conditions, Koike advises as many residents to work from home as possible. As of recording, residents needn’t worry about a disruption to public transport, outdoor activities like jogging being limited, or the availability of basic necessities. She reminds viewers that the government is advising telework programs, and employees should recommend such systems to their employers if businesses have yet to implement them.

Hikakin asks what essential workers who may still be using public transport should be careful of. Koike responds, saying residents should stagger their commute time while avoiding rush hours. While in transit, they should maintain social distancing.

Koike continues saying that supermarkets remained well stocked and that there is no need for hoarding. She explains the effect that social distancing has, the robustness of the medical system, the availability of ventilators, the reliability of the information, and other matters pertinent to the pandemic. Overall, the conversation is a detailed review of the standard measures and issues governments and communities across the world are currently facing.

Indeed, it is a very professional interview managed by a professional beatboxer. Perhaps, Hikakin will find himself on NHK news in the not too distant future.

By - Luke Mahoney.