National

Romance dance routine featuring Santa-clad Ambassador Kennedy an instant online hit

by Tomoko Otake

Staff Writer

U.S. Ambassador Caroline Kennedy and other embassy staff across Japan made a splash on social media Tuesday by releasing a Christmassy, U.S. Embassy version of a koi (falling in love) dance routine aired in a popular Japanese TV drama series.

The 90-second clip uploaded Tuesday evening on YouTube features Kennedy in a Santa Claus outfit and others donning reindeer caps dancing in sync with “Koi,” a theme song of the TV drama “Nigeru wa Hajidaga Yaku ni Tatsu” (roughly translated as “Running Away is Shameful but Useful”).

The video, copied from one aired at the end of each episode of the drama series, had been viewed nearly a million times on the video-sharing site as of Wednesday afternoon.

The video starts off with Santa-clad Kennedy performing the neatly choreographed dance, followed by various other diplomats and staff from the embassy office in Tokyo as well as the consulate offices in Sapporo, Nagoya, Osaka, Kobe, Fukuoka and Okinawa.

U.S. Embassy spokeswoman Marrie Schaefer said the diplomatic mission was pleasantly surprised at the overwhelming response to the video, which was originally created to be shared internally.

“This is the holiday season and we try to do something nice and light, and we try to be merry, like Merry Christmas,” Schaefer said by phone Wednesday. “Originally we were just going to do something internal, to say ‘Hey guys!’ in the mission… But after it was finished we said, ‘This is good! We should upload it!’ And everyone said, ‘Great idea!’ and so that’s what we did.”

A female staffer at the embassy filmed and choreographed the movements for all the performers, she said.

“We practiced, but we didn’t have to practice a whole day,” she said. “We do have other work to do.”

The drama, which features actress Yui Aragaki and actor/singer Gen Hoshino, had its last episode aired on the TBS network Tuesday.

Hoshino plays the role of an introvert computer engineer who nurtures love and trust with a woman with whom he gets into a fake marriage. He also sings the theme song.

The embassy video even features a male official donning the eyeglasses and acting like the clumsy husband character played by Hoshino, and Kumamon, the bear-like promotional mascot of Kumamoto Prefecture.

The clip blew away many YouTube users, with some commenting on the “high quality” of the dance and the showmanship exhibited by the embassy staff.

“This would make even (U.S. President-elect Donald) Trump smile,” one user quipped.

The embassy joins a growing list of people and institutions across the country that have joined the koi dance boom and uploaded versions of their own on YouTube.

In the city of Himi, Toyama Prefecture, a dwindling and aging mountain community has shared its video, mostly featuring elderly men and women in farming gear, to promote its rice and vegetable products.

Residents of Setouchi, population 9,000, have shot their koi dance against the backdrop of the Seto Inland Sea, while people young and old gathered at a hall in Yanagase, Gifu Prefecture, to film their version. Even figure skating stars Yuzuru Hanyu and Nobunari Oda have performed the dance, the video of which was tweeted by Oda.

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