Name: Simon and Martina Stawski
Likes: Eating, coffee, discovering new music
Dislikes: The words “moist, leotard and puce,” and celery
1. What first brought you to Japan? Our desire to experience another culture while we still can. We’ve wanted to visit Japan since we were kids, but we kept postponing it. We’re getting old — the time is now!
2. What’s keeping you here? How awesome everything has been! Everyone in our neighborhood is so friendly. They share fruit and vegetables with us, help us figure out how to recycle (so scary) and are just overwhelmingly welcoming.
3. When you think of Japan, you think … about exploring all the amazing shops hiding down the narrow lantern-filled alleyways.
4. What’s your favorite Japanese word or phrase? “Muri-muri-muri-muri.” It’s like “sorry” and “nope” and “not happening buddy” all politely mixed up into a hand gesture.
5. What’s the most exciting/outrageous thing you have ever done? We did a six-week Canada/U.S. road trip last year on which we met over 3,000 of our fans in eight different cities. That was so rewarding but so exhausting as well. And we got fat from eating so much food.
6. Describe your most embarrassing moment in Asia. Describing pepper spray to someone as gochu spray. Gochu means pepper, but it is also slang for penis. “You gotta shake it up and spray it in someone’s eyes!” Only realized the mistake after it left our mouths.
7. You started a video blog in South Korea eight years ago. What were you initially hoping to achieve? We started blogging because the day before we flew to South Korea, North Korea threatened war. We made videos to show our parents that North Korea didn’t nuke us.
8. Any particularly memorable moments on camera over the past five years you’d like to share? We tried to go to a famous Korean coffee shop and got deeply lost on a mountain — on Halloween. The sun set and we were lost in the woods, in the dark, with howling dogs/wolves in the background. We thought, “This is how dumb white people die.”
9. What’s the strangest request you’ve ever been asked in your line of work? Somebody offered Martina $1,000 to make a video of her putting on shoes for a foot fetish site. We didn’t do it. But it was tempting … I mean … No!
10. You moved from South Korea to Japan a few months ago. What’s the biggest difference you’ve noticed between the two countries? The cars stop at red lights. We’re not afraid of getting hit by a car here! It’s a serious concern while living in Seoul.
11. Any similarities? Both countries seem proud of having “four seasons.” We still don’t understand why it’s a talking point because tons of countries have four seasons. Maybe we’re just too Canadian and we’ve been spoiled by our Canadian “four seasons.”
12. Why did you call your video series “Eat your sushi”? It was a play off of our “Eat Your Kimchi” channel, something our viewers would be familiar with, and that was a play off of “eat your vegetables.” “Eat Your Kimchi” was a play off the veggie-eating idea that you should have a “daily dose of our videos because they’re good for you.”
13. What has surprised you most about living in Japan? How silent it becomes as you walk away from the subway. It’s like LOUD NOISES, BRIGHT LIGHTS — nothing. Sometimes we feel like we need to whisper in our own house.
14. What is the best Japanese dish you’ve tried so far? Boiled tuna cheek at a Michelin-starred sushi restaurant. It was melt-in-your-mouth awesome.
15. How would you describe a CoCo curry in a single sentence? Does the CoCo stand for cocaine, because we’re addicted.
16. More than 1 million subscribers follow your exploits on YouTube. How do you connect with your fans? Daily: We talk with them in the comments on YouTube and on our website, as well as all over social media. We think about the different time zones, so we try to respond to comments at different times of day as well.
17. What’s the most useful Japanese product/gadget you have bought? Electric bikes. Why have we not used these before!?!
18. Who would win a fight between a lion and tiger? Whoever’s making a video of it. Put that up on YouTube!
19. What do you want to be when you grow up? Better at playing the piano. Simon can’t play it at all yet, but wants to learn. Martina has all the musical talent in our relationship.
20. Do you have any words of advice for young people? Do what makes you happy and don’t follow a path your family expects of you. However, don’t be totally unrealistic as well. Sometimes you have to work a job you don’t like in order to pay the bills, but it is just as bad to stay at a well-paying job that makes you hate your everyday life.
For more information on Simon and Martina, visit www.eatyourkimchi.com.