During a time when a lot of us were kept indoors, one new thing we were tasked with was to find a way to entertain ourselves in isolation. Due to this, the internet became not just a convenience, but a necessity for entertainment during the pandemic. Youtube, in particular, served an invaluable role -- whether you were there for the baking tutorials or for the cat videos.

When it comes to music, the regulars who hunt Youtube for playlists became united by one type of video that Youtube’s algorithm kept recommending to them this past year and a half. You’ll recognize it from the warm-toned looping animation and from the words “lofi hip hop stream” written somewhere in the title. You’re sure to find dozens of live versions at any given moment, with hundreds more non-live ones ready to be played.

Japan, or more specifically, Kyoto is looking to contribute to this corner of the internet. A new series of videos called “Kyoto Chill” was made by a Japanese company in collaboration with the city’s local facilities for a project called Otōri Danshi (お通り男史). The name is a play on Japanese kanji characters, and can be loosely translated as “Historical Street Men”. These lavishly garbed men double as ‘street gods’ who pray for the safety of people passing by the streets.

As the name implies, they take streets or avenues with historical ties to Kyoto as inspiration, and for the first video, they’re taking viewers to central Kyoto City. Home to the Shinsen'en Buddhist temple, Oike Street is where you’ll find the temple’s once forbidden garden—a leisure time favorite for nobilities from the Heian period (794 - 1185).

The Oike Street video features animated scenery that stays true to a real-life view of Shinsen'en’s grounds, complete with a vermillion bridge crossing over the still garden pond. Listening to the music, you’ll also hear sporadic background noises, all of which were recorded on-site at Shinsenen.

The ‘Kyoto Chill’ videos are being released as part of a promotion for an upcoming Otori Danshi book. You can find a four-minute version and an extended 59-minute version of the Oike Street video on the Otori Danshi Youtube channel.

By - Jen Laforteza.