Four in their fifties and sixties have become TikTok stars in Japan by dancing and swinging awkwardly in T-shirt and tie, and second-rate videos to promote their small town affected by a depopulation.
Since their first choreography in February, their videos, filmed in locations ranging from stadiums to Shinto shrines to municipal buildings, have been viewed more than 16 million times.
The Four men who call themselves Ojikon.a slang word used by young Japanese to confuse “uji-san” (“grandfather” or “old man”) with “kyun”, which means “heartbreaker”.
They wear large pieces of colorful cloth around their stomachs and keep an unsentimental face, even if they try, without difficulty, to stay in tune with the music.
Takumi Shirase, 52, told AFP on Monday that he created this group with three friends to try to get people to talk about their small town of Wake, located in Okayama Prefecture (western Japan).
“We wanted to offer something that revitalized our aging rural community, which is suffering from demographic decline, with fewer children,” explained this entrepreneur in computer science and horticulture.
Wake currently has a population of about 14,000 and her primary school has closed due to a lack of demand. A shopping center has also disappeared and some annual festivals are no longer held in the area.
“We hope to encourage people to come to Wake, both as tourists and as new residents,” added Mr. Sheras.
Many “ojiqun” fans on TikTok sprinkle their comments below each video with heart symbols, calling them “cool” and “cool”.
One user said, “I can’t stop laughing,” while another said, “I have a calm smile, for the first time in a long time.”
“Total coffee aficionado. Travel buff. Music ninja. Bacon nerd. Beeraholic.”