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2020年 5月 20日

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Japanese Celebrities Use the Internet to Encourage People to Stay Home and Healthy

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Dozens of Japanese celebrities are doing their part to encourage people in the country to stay at home and practice healthy hygiene practices amid the COVID-19 pandemic by turning to the Internet to share helpful content.

As the country moved into a state of emergency, celebrities and influencers shared videos of dances promoting hand washing or offered up online challenges encouraging people choosing to stay home in order to curb the spread of the new coronavirus strain. Some even hosted livestreams on sites such as YouTube to offer entertainment for those stuck indoors.

Since late March, the national government along with local ones have strongly requested people to stay home as much as they can, and have urged businesses to close down or at least limit their hours of operation.

J-pop artist Hoshino Gen provided a song to help keep people busy and entertained during a period where they were expected to stay inside. He uploaded a short acoustic song online called “Uchi de Odorou,” which lasted just under a minute and featured lyrics about meeting up with friends and having fun in the future.

Gen encouraged anyone to add their own musical arrangements and details to the song, and to share them on social media. This transformed into a meme, with other celebrities joining in with their own versions, while thousands more shared their own takes. These delighted users on sites such as Twitter.

Even Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe shared his own version of “Uchi de Odorou,” which saw him relaxing at home with his dog. Many netizens, however, criticized him for the video, calling it inappropriate at a time when many people in the country are suffering financially because of COVID-19.

One of the big worries, especially in big cities such as Tokyo, was that younger people would go out on weekends to have fun during the state of emergency. Entertainer Naomi Watanabe started holding livestreams on YouTube over weekend nights in order to keep people at home. Every night, she ate dinner and talked with fans who were tuned in, with some of her friends appearing as guests.

Her series proved to be a big success, with hundreds of thousands tuning in at times. Observers applauded her move.

Other notable names used YouTube as a way to promote important information about COVID-19. YouTuber Hikakin interviewed Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike about how to stop the spread of COVID-19. It quickly attracted millions of views, with many applauding its attention to detail.

Comedian Pikotaro, meanwhile, updated his 2016 viral hit “PPAP (Pen-Pineapple-Apple-Pen)” to be about hand washing. He swapped out the fruit and writing tools in favor of soap, encouraging people to “wash wash wash wash” their hands. It racked up millions of hits, and earned attention from all over the world as all countries deal with the virus.
                                 (471 words)

Key Words and Expressions

  1. content — ideas, facts, or opinions contained in something written, said, or represented
  2. influencer — a person or a group that affects the behavior or opinions of others
  3. online challenge — a challenge offered to public on the Internet
  4. livestream — a video or a voice delivered in real time using network
  5. upload — to put information on the Internet
  6. social media — websites and computer programs where people communicate and share information
  7. meme — an idea, image, video, etc. that spreads very quickly and widely on the Internet
  8. netizen — someone who uses the Internet
  9. tuned in — to watch or listen to a television, radio, or video on the Internet
  10. viral hit — a person or a thing that is very popular or successful especially on the Internet

Reading Comprehension Test

Questions

  1. Why are celebrities sharing content online encouraging people to stay in and practice good health practices?
    a. They have been bored recently.
    b. This is a new trend among younger people in Japan.
    c. Stores in Tokyo have been closed due to earthquake concerns, so they are entertaining people.
    d. They are helping to try to curb the spread of the new coronavirus.
  2. What does Naomi Watanabe do during her livestreams?
    a. She interviews doctors about COVID-19.
    b. She interviews politicians about COVID-19.
    c. She writes songs and encourages people to add to them.
    d. She eats dinner and interacts with fans who are tuning in.
  3. Which of the following is NOT true?
    a. Many people offered their own versions of “Uchi de Odorou.”
    b. Pikotaro’s new version of “PPAP” didn’t get much attention around the world.
    c. Naomi Watanabe holds her livestreams on the weekends.
    d. Hikakin interviewed the Tokyo governor about COVID-19.
  4. Why did some netizens get angry at Shinzo Abe’s version of “Uchi de Odorou?”
  5. Why does Naomi Watanabe hold livestreams on the weekends?
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