“In France, everyone is late to parties and that’s normal,” laughs Youtuber Tokyo No Jo

At 27, Tokyo No Jo is increasingly talked about on Youtube and TikTok where it has more than 650,000 subscribers. His specialty: humorous videos in which he compares the cultural differences between Japan, his country, and France, where he has lived since 2014. A topic that entertains as much as he wants, reflecting the growing interest of the French in manga and culture Japanese pop. Jo will also be one of the guests of honor this weekend at Art to play Nantes, one of the biggest art festivals in France.

You grew up in Japan, your whole family lives there, but you’ve been living in France for almost 8 years now. Why this choice?

I studied French as a second language, somewhat by accident, and one day I wanted to discover France by myself. I really liked it and decided to settle there. It was basically for a year and, finally, I stayed! I was enrolled at the Sorbonne for two years, I also worked in a travel agency, then in a company that organized repatriations. I discovered the sea, other cities, I have friends, the French cuisine is delicious. I feel good here.

What surprised you the most when you arrived in France?

Perhaps the coldness of the people at the beginning. The people on the street, the shopkeepers, the waiters don’t smile, they barely wave, at least in Paris. I was also shocked by the dirt in transport, delays, begging. You never see that in Japan. I appreciated the frankness of the French, it’s easier than in Japan to know what someone thinks. During the trip, I was also very surprised by the diversity of regions, dialects, pride. It’s like there are several small towns rolled into one.

Why did you start posting videos?

Since I’m a bit shy, I jumped in to get attention and try to make friends. The idea was to break the clichés about Japan, give my point of view on the differences with France, criticize the two countries making people laugh. I didn’t think it would be so successful. Today I earn between 3,000 and 4,000 euros a month with YouTube and TikTok, not counting the partnerships. I dedicate myself entirely to my videos, even though I publish much less than most other Youtubers.

In your videos you amuse yourself with the pitfalls of the French language. Was the learning difficult?

It was really a hassle at first. In Japan, when you learn French, you mainly work on writing. The first weeks in France, I didn’t understand anything orally. There are notions that aren’t obvious, such as masculine-feminine which doesn’t exist in Japanese. And then there are many subtleties that can create misunderstandings. When a girl says “I like you” or “I like you a lot”, she is much less strong than “I love you” for example! How come ? There are also French phrases or expressions that, when spoken, sound like profanity in Japanese. It’s pretty creepy (laughs).

One of your most successful videos is about supermarkets. You also trust that you spend a lot of time there…

I like it yes. I find ideas there. When you look at shopping carts, you learn things about people, their lives, their tastes. And it must be said that the supermarkets here are very different from Japan. There are security guards, a lot of alcohol, a lot of mineral water, few freshly prepared meals… Customers tear the plastic off the milk or Coca-Cola packs to take only one bottle. This is unimaginable in Japan.

Another particularly popular video, the one dealing with the holidays…

In France everyone arrives late to parties and that’s normal. If you arrive on time, you will find yourself alone! The Japanese would have arrived ten minutes earlier! The other big difference is that guests are chatting in all corners: on a sofa, in the kitchen, in the hallway, on the balcony… It’s weird. In Japan, everyone is gathered around a table. And then for a classic evening in France, there are desserts, aperitif cakes, sausages, beers and that’s it. Finally, a nice bit of cooking. But it’s cool, it’s more relaxed than in Japan I think.

You also talk a lot about romantic relationships, obviously…

Because the codes are not the same at all. In Japan, we don’t call a woman we don’t know very well by her name, and we kiss her even less! Things are going much faster in France. I also have the impression that French women have more personality.

What idea do the Japanese have of France?

For my parents’ generation, France was the top, the big dream to travel. Seeing Paris, drinking champagne, all that… But I think it’s changed a bit. Young people have a somewhat snobbish image of France: gastronomy, elegance, castles, museums… An expensive destination that isn’t necessarily cool for partying. They are more attracted to pop culture from other countries like the US or Australia.

And then the French? I’m among the greatest manga readers in the world…

Some young French people are very savvy, they know manga much better than the Japanese themselves who, at times, are satisfied A piece Where is it naruto. Those who enter through the manga are often interested in Japanese culture, its history, food. I think Japan is attracting more and more people. They ask me many questions about him. But some clichés still die hard. Not all Japanese are calm, polite and eat a lot of fish! (laughs)

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