Ochikeron, a Tokyo-based YouTuber, has transformed her kitchen into a studio as she uploads Japanese cooking videos introducing easy and quick-to-prepare recipes for viewers.
She began her YouTube channel, which now has close to 600,000 subscribers, right after the Great East Japan Earthquake — a tragedy that sparked her desire to promote something from Japan to the world. Having blogged for more than four years, Ochikeron has managed to compile over 300 recipes.
Despite her passion for cooking, Ochikeron has confessed to being a fussy eater. Her dislikes include most kinds of sashimi — including fatty tuna, squid and octopus — and most yakiniku (barbecued meat) items. Anything chewy, gooey or slimy is a no-no.
She explains in one of her videos that “Ochikeron” is a wordplay on ocharake, which means goofy, and is a term her family came up with to describe people they found hilarious. She says she didn’t think she was the funny one in the family; the nickname initially belonged to her more humorous sibling.
Ochikeron spoke briefly to The Japan Times about her videos, recipes and past struggles with Japanese food.
So you began vlogging because of 3/11.
I remember being stuck in my office the day the earthquake struck. And this may seem overly dramatic, but in that moment, I thought Japan was going to end.
Later I asked myself, what can I do to preserve something from this country? That’s when I decided I wanted to promote Japanese home-cooked dishes — although what I’m doing is merely a hobby. Even now, I feel like anything could happen at anytime, and every day I am grateful to be alive. This is why I hope to share Japan’s food culture with as many people all over the world.
When I lived overseas years ago, I remember people being grossed out by the seaweed on my onigiri (rice balls) that I brought to school. And many people being unfamiliar to Japanese food. Though that may not be the case anymore, I didn’t want people to view Japanese food that way. I used to really hate bringing my bento, or lunch box, to school and feeling ashamed of my nationality because of the food I ate. I don’t want the younger generations to feel the way I did.
Where did you learn how to speak English?
I went to college in America, and I lived in New York for six years. That’s when I picked it up.
How do you usually choose your recipes?
I’ve always loved taking part in recipe competitions, so I’ve got thousands of original recipes to share. I’ve also been posting recipes on Japanese cooking websites, so I’m used to looking through viewer requests and picking recipes that I know they will enjoy.
What is your most popular recipe so far?
Are there any tricks you use to make your food look more appealing in the videos?
I use natural sunlight when filming. No other lighting can beat that.