Japan is a real wonderland when it comes to neat little toys, gadgets and fun candies — navigating the variety of Kit Kats alone could be its own article. If you’re new to the country, it may be hard to tell which treats are worth your yen, and that’s where YouTube helps.
YouTubers are increasingly becoming the soldiers of Cool Japan. Vloggers film their trips to tourist spots in the countryside, explore the latest anime or record verdicts on the newest snacks on sale. While the field of English YouTubers is fairly large, Priscila Kuriyama Lohmann and Tales Jonathan Lohmann — who go by Prit and Lohgann on YouTube — seem to have cornered the Portuguese-language market on Japan-themed videos with their channel Japao Nosso De Cada Dia (Japan Our Daily Bread).
The couple’s videos are simple, with many of the newer ones taking place in their home in front of a bookshelf stacked with toy Pokemon dolls and Nintendo characters. In one of their latest installments, they try out pink and blue curries (surprisingly enjoying them) and recently they demonstrated kendama, a traditional Japanese toy. The curry clip racked up more than 200,000 views in a day and the kendama one stands at more than 400,000 after a week. One of the couple’s most popular videos, in which they try out a plastic ball that makes ice cream, is on its way to hitting 2.5 million views.
“We are just a crazy Brazilian couple who present Japanese culture and customs in our own way,” says Prit when asked to describe what she’s doing on Japao Nosso De Cada Dia. “I fell in love with Japan and I want to show what the country is really like for those who cannot see it up close.”
The channel has been around for 3½ years, but both Prit and Lohgann moved to Japan from Sao Paulo more than a decade ago. They met each other at a Japanese-language class in Kani, Gifu Prefecture, and later married. The couple currently lives in Nagano, producing YouTube videos for a living.
Lohgann, 33, has Japanese ancestry on his mother’s side, while his father is German. He came to Japan to escape a bad economic situation at home. “My uncle used to annoy me all the time about moving to Japan because things were really hard in Brazil,” he says. “I was at college in Brazil, but couldn’t deal with my studies, having a job and paying bills.”
After arriving, he got a job at a factory and began learning Japanese. He says he stopped attending lessons due to the stress of 12-hour days at the factory, but another Brazilian friend encouraged him to get back to studying. “I was very tired,” Lohgann says, “but then I met Prit in one of those Japanese classes.”
Prit, 32, was born to Japanese parents in Sao Paulo and moved here for a “fresh start,” working in the factory as well. She says she fell in love with the culture, though she has had to learn a lot of it from scratch. “I think one of the biggest obstacles we had to tackle is the language,” she says. “That’s not only for Brazilians but for all newcomers.”
Lohgann agrees that learning the language is important. “In my opinion, you have to dive into the culture in order to be happy in Japan,” he says. “You can’t just keep doing the same things you did in Brazil and think that it’ll be OK.”
After the couple married, they began to focus on learning Japanese as a way to quit their factory jobs. YouTube soon became a way to get a break from the daily grind.
“When we worked at the factory, we didn’t have much time for entertainment,” Prit says. “Then, we started watching YouTube videos at lunchtime and got really interested in the platform.”
In 2013, they both quit the factory and began recording videos. The original idea was to simply show family and friends back home what life was like in Japan, but their audience grew. Their first official video, filmed at a conveyor-belt sushi restaurant, has since attracted more than 500,000 views. Sensing an opportunity, the couple enrolled in a course for content creators via the YouTube Creator Hub. This gave them a sense of what the platform was capable of and led them to unexpected success and a legion of fans.
Although their professional debut holds a special spot in their hearts, the conveyor-belt sushi clip isn’t their favorite. Prit mentions one video in which they demonstrate a high-tech toilet, while Lohgann gets sentimental with a commemorative piece. “I got emotional over a video we made to celebrate hitting 1 million subscribers,” he says. “It always brings me good feelings and even some tears.”
The channel now stands at more than 1.6 million subscribers, a level at which the couple can start to sustain themselves financially due to ads and sponsors. However, they caution other budding internet stars not to quit their day jobs just yet.
“Some people misunderstand this YouTube profitability, it’s a bit of an illusion,” Lohgann points out. “For example, people may think that achieving millions of views lets you earn a ton of cash, but that’s not true. We only got a decent financial support after three years of hard work on the channel.”
Some of that hard work involved building a loyal audience, a lot of which is done via the comments section — which can be either wonderful or a nightmare depending on your audience.
The couple says they have caught flak for their “childish” way of presenting things, but it’s that very style that has also seemed to appeal to much of YouTube’s core audience of younger viewers. Prit and Lohgann’s advice is to not bother with what “haters” say.
“I used to try to answer some mean comments,” Lohgann says, “but Prit advised me to only answer those who are positive toward our work because those are the people who can help us grow.”
Check out Prit and Lohgann’s YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/user/japaonossodecadadia.