Thu, Aug 15, 2019 - Page 14 News List

Japanese YouTuber takes Taiwan by storm

Sanyuan uses humor to facilitate cross-cultural understanding between Taiwan and Japan

By Candice Chiang  /  Contributing Reporter

A screenshot of Sanyuan’s YouTube video, A Song for Learning Basic Mandarin.

Photo Grabs From YouTube

With a pained expression on his face, Mihara Keigo says the culinary “masterpiece” he has just eaten “represents an unfriendly Taiwan-Japan relationship.” Apparently, salmon sashimi does not pair well with minced pork belly and soy sauce.

The bizarre culinary combination was prepared as part of a YouTube video, Making Japanese Style Braised Pork, which was shot by Sanyuan Japan, a channel created in 2016 by Keigo, who goes by the YouTube moniker Sanyuan.

In 2018, Sanyuan was joined by Junya Murakami and Katsumasa Tomita, two of his friends respectively known as Jun and Tommy. Tommy fell in love with Mandarin after studying in Taiwan for a year, and Jun was impressed with Taiwanese hospitality during his travels. But Sanyuan is clearly the star, charming Taiwanese audiences through hard work and a healthy dose of self-deprecation.

“I’m tall, but not much of a looker,” Sanyuan quips in one video. “Can I ever be an idol?”

From his hilarious reaction when he first tasted stinky tofu, his amazement when witnessing people casually sitting on the ground at Taipei Main Station, to his appreciation for the hospitality he has experienced here, Sanyuan’s videos attract Taiwanese audiences because they offer insight into how Japanese perceive Taiwanese culture.

Sanyuan’s story is as much about leaving Japan as it was coming to Taiwan.

“My life [in Japan] felt unfulfilled because I was working a desk job and ignoring my penchant for filming videos and my dream to become an idol. When I came across YouTube, I decided to give it a shot,” he said. “So, I quit.”

And, if the numbers are anything to go by, he has pretty much achieved his dream, as he is one of a handful of YouTubers that have reached over 1 million subscribers in Taiwan.

Sanyuan says he chose Taiwan because he wants to enhance Taiwan-Japan friendship, and creates video content based on cultural differences between the two countries.

His failed attempt to turn braised pork into a Japanese cuisine may seem ridiculous, but it reveals distinct taste preferences in Japan and Taiwan; his song based on similar phonetics in Mandarin and Japanese does not make much sense, but it showcases interesting cognates between the two languages; his documentary of spending a night at a stranger’s home verifies Taiwan’s reputation for friendliness.

Today, Sanyuan calls Taiwan a second home.

“Making videos is my way to give back to Taiwan.”

Having heard multiple anecdotes about how his fans have decided to travel to Taiwan or Japan after watching his videos, Sanyuan seems confident when saying that his channel serves as a bridge between the two countries.

When asked about the future, Sanyuan said: “I came to Taiwan to pursue my dream of becoming an idol, so I hope to write a song with a positive message that lingers in the minds of Taiwanese people for a really long time.”

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