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S’pore-based Japanese vlogger scores surprise hits with videos on Yishun, HDB flats

SINGAPORE — Home to cat abuse, murder, sanitary pad littering, a person attacking policemen with a stun gun and a misbehaving mynah bird hung from a laundry pole, Yishun is the butt of a running joke among Singaporeans — that it is a twilight zone where strange things happen.

S’pore-based Japanese vlogger scores surprise hits with videos on Yishun, HDB flats

A Japanese vlogger who goes by the name Ghib Ojisan chronicled his exploration of Yishun in a YouTube video.

SINGAPORE — Home to cat abuse, murder, sanitary pad littering, a person attacking policemen with a stun gun and a misbehaving mynah bird hung from a laundry pole, Yishun is the butt of a running joke among Singaporeans — that it is a twilight zone where strange things happen.

Yishun’s reputation prompted a Japanese vlogger who goes by the name Ghib Ojisan — which translates to Uncle Ghib — to investigate and chronicle his visit to the town in a YouTube video shared on his channel, which has amassed more than 58,000 views.

When TODAY met him at a Starbucks outlet in Raffles City on Wednesday (Dec 18), the sprightly YouTuber, who divulged only his first name, Ken, was hard at work talking to his camera.

Born in Osaka but raised in the United States until he was 19, he spent one year backpacking to 27 countries around the world, busking and filming his experiences.

This was until he accepted a job offer in Singapore and decided to move here alone.

He declined to disclose the job he signed up for, but has since left that job and is currently working as a full-time vlogger, while also managing Nekkyo Singapore — an online site which offers tips and tricks to Japanese readers who intend to move here or visit the country.

INTEREST IN THE LIVES OF TYPICAL SINGAPOREANS

Mr Ken, aged in his late twenties, told TODAY that his vlogging journey in Singapore started with explorations of popular tourist attractions like the Merlion, Marina Bay Sands and Chinatown, but despite his best efforts, those videos did not take off.

But when he turned his gaze on some of the more everyday aspects of Singaporean life, his fortunes took a turn for the better.

For instance, one video in which he gave a tour of his Housing and Development Board (HDB) flat, garnered many comments from Japanese viewers — most of them curious about the idea of a bomb shelter in the flat.

The Japanese vlogger who goes by the name Ghib Ojisan found videos on everyday aspects of Singapore life generated strong interest among his viewers: Photo: Raj Nadarajan/TODAY

With the aim of producing a video every two days, Mr Ken took to the heartlands — starting with Sengkang — to cater to his viewers' apparent high level of interest in where the typical Singaporean lives.

“I think no one has tried to make a video on the real Singapore (for Japanese viewers). When I published the first video, I received so many comments from my viewers who wanted to see how the HDB flats look like and how Singaporeans live.”

After his video chronicling his adventure in Sengkang became a hit — views and comments on his channel trebled — Mr Ken decided that his next video would be about Yishun, which according to his Singaporean friends, is not for the weak-hearted.

He also recalled reading an article that listed all the happenings in Yishun — murders, cat killings and policemen attacked with a stun gun — and thought it was, perhaps, the most dangerous place in Singapore.

But after his trip to the town in the North, he raved: “My experience turned out great. Nothing happened to me. I’m alive!”

He also described Yishun as a cosy town that is home to “nice people and cute cats”.

That video is by far his most successful one, gaining him close to 2,000 subscribers on his YouTube channel.

It even garnered the attention of Members of Parliament (MPs) for Nee Soon Group Representation Constituency (GRC), Mr Louis Ng and Dr Lee Bee Wah, who shared their thoughts on their respective Facebook pages.

Expressing her delight, Dr Lee said that Mr Ken showed “the true face of Yishun”, that it is a vibrant, warm and safe town.

“Residents chatted to him and offered to help him, that's the same spirit that I see in Yishun all the time. Many of our residents were resettled from the kampungs (villages) together and the kampung spirit is still strong in Yishun,” she wrote.

She added that community programmes such as the community fridge, cancer support movement and anti-litter efforts were made possible because of this spirit.

Mr Ng, who shared an article about the video, wrote: “See, Yishun is lovely.”

Although Mr Ken was not aware of the MPs’ interest, he said three strangers have recognised him in the street in the last week.

A PIECE OF SINGAPORE’S HISTORY

Mr Ken has not shied away from sensitive topics, such as the Japanese occupation in Singapore during World War II.

In a video posted on Dec 10, titled: “What did Japan do to Singapore?“, he touched on the Sook Ching massacre — the mass purge of the Chinese in Singapore who were deemed hostile to the Japanese.

“I was raised in America so I personally don’t know how they teach history in Japan but I don’t think many Japanese people know about the history (between the two countries),” he said.

The discrepancy in the number of victims reported by both governments also sparked the idea to film that video.

“I think the relationship has changed so much. The Japanese love Singapore and vice versa. When I read the comments to the video, I felt so much love and forgiveness.”

While he plans to produce more videos on the history between Singapore and Japan, Mr Ken is currently working on a food series that follows his adventure to find the best eateries in this country.

Asked what viewers can expect from him in the future, he said: “Well, I just vlogged about my S$3 haircut yesterday, so my viewers can look out for that video.”

“I think many Japanese viewers would be surprised to find super cheap places here in this expensive country.”

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Ghib Ojisan YouTube vlog videos

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