Dancing ‘Ojisans’ go viral among Japanese youths

Jiji Press
Ojiqun members shoot a TikTok video in Wake, Okayama Prefecture, on April 10.

WAKE, Okayama (Jiji Press) — A group of four “ojisans,” or middle-aged men, dancing in hopes of revitalizing a western Japan town suffering depopulation, has captured the attention of Japanese youths on TikTok.

The ojisans’ group, or “Ojiqun” on TikTok, has amassed over 16 million views in total, with many users of the short video app commenting how “cute” they were on their videos.

The group from the town of Wake, Okayama Prefecture, was formed with a wish to bring a smile to people’s faces with videos of middle-aged, suit-clad men dancing.

Jiji Press
Ojiqun members pose for a photo.

Spearheaded by 52-year-old Takumi Shirase, head of a web content distributor, the group was created in January. The other members are Kenji Odomi, 52, who runs a tatami mat wholesale company, as well as 66-year-old Ryoichi Kanzaki and 67-year-old Minoru Yamamoto, both Wake assembly members.

The four wear different colored “haramaki” belly warmers.

With the help of their family members, the four shoot TikTok videos at various locations around the town, including a closed elementary school.

The group’s TikTok account only had around 800 followers initially. The number has now surged to around 33,000 thanks to a video posted at the end of March, which scored over 4.4 million views in a day.

“I was surprised,” Yamamoto said. “I am a bit shy about being called cute, but I’m pleased.”

Around 40 pct of the town’s population is aged 65 or over. The population is expected to fall from the current 13,500 to around 8,000 by 2045.

“We hope that [our TikTok videos] attract tourists and new settlers, so that the town turns into a municipality that can make money,” said Shirase, the group’s leader.