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How a Japanese Song Became a Popular Meme in China

Explaining how the Japanese song Shin Takarajima became a popular meme on the Chinese Website Bilibili.

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How a Japanese Song Became a Popular Meme in China

In 2019, a young Japanese man started an entire movement in China. Not many people know about this.

However, what I'm talking about is not a political or social movement. It's actually just a meme.

I previously explained the meme of combining Japanese music and Bollywood dances. In that post, I explained that Morimori is a central figure in creating these memes. This post is about his greatest accomplishment.

One of the songs that Morimori frequently uses in his videos is 新宝島 (Shin Takarajima) by サカナクション (Sakanaction).

From Wikipedia:

Sakanaction (サカナクション, Sakanakushon), stylised as sakanaction, are a Japanese rock band from Sapporo, Hokkaido, Japan. Their music is a fusion of alternative rock, electronic, pop, and new wave styles, and is thus difficult to classify under one category.

Shin Takarajima is a popular song, with the music video having more than 155 million views on YouTube. Take a look at the music video:

Sakanaction - Shin Takarajima (Wikipedia)

The retro-style music video is "produced in homage to the Shōwa-era music and variety show Dorifu Daibakushō." I personally like the way they're stepping in the video.

The song by itself is also popular. It happens to be a song that people love to combine with random videos—such as Bollywood dances.

There is even an article (in Japanese) by a professor explaining why people like combining this song with other random videos.

Anyways, in March 2019, Morimori published a video that combined Shin Takarajima with a video by Filipino dance group Iconx Family.

This is the dance that Iconx Family posted:

And this is the video by Morimori that combined the dance with Shin Takarajima:


Doesn't the dance match the song perfectly?

This video was then reposted on the Chinese video site Bilibili.

If you're not familiar with Bilibili, take a look at Lillian Li's description:

Grossly simplified, it's the Chinese equivalent of Youtube. Except it's not. It's like if Youtube, Twitch, Steam, Patreon, TokyoPop and Netflix had a CRISPR-baby, and that baby was a weeb, but that weeb is also super down with Chinese Gen Z and is listed on the Nasdaq with a market cap of $15bn. That is Bilibili.

You can find all sorts of Japanese content on Bilibili. Even famous Japanese people have been starting their own channels on Bilibili.

Voice Actress Kana Hanazawa
Music producer Ayase and his group YOASOBI

For context, Kana Hanazawa is a very popular voice actress, and YOASOBI has been one of the most popular artists in Japan in the past few years.

Going back to Shin Takarajima, the best thing about Morimori's video is that it became a huge meme on the Chinese internet—specifically Bilibili—as well.

These are the search results when you search "Shin Takarajima."

"Shin Takarajima" = 新宝島 (Japanese) = 新宝岛 (Chinese Simplified)

万 is 10,000 in Chinese (and Japanese), so the video on the top left—a repost of Morimori's video—has over 96 million views. For comparison, Morimori's video on Twitter has just over 600 thousand views.

The search results above also include dance covers and edited versions of Morimori's video that are receiving millions of views.

And the video at the top right of the grid is my favorite part: the Filipino dancers in Moirmori's video were invited to perform at a Bilibili event in China.

This video by Morimori goes over the entire timeline, but skip to 2:55 if you just want to see the performance at the Bilibili event:

To review:

  1. Morimori posts video on Twitter combining the Filipino dance and Shin Takarajima song
  2. Video is reposted on Bilibili
  3. Video (dance and song) become popular on Bilibili
  4. People in China start doing the dance and posting dance covers
  5. The Filipino dancers from the original video are invited to dance to a Shin Takarajima Remix at a Bilibili event in China.

This is a Bilibili event that's probably full of people who like Japanese content, so I'm not surprised by them playing a Japanese song. However, I find it hilarious because they're performing in front of a huge crowd in China after Morimori randomly decided to combine the video by Iconx Family with Shin Takarajima.

The main questions I have are:

  • How did Morimori find this video?
  • Who is the person who reposted the video? You're also a legend.
  • Is Iconx Family aware of what exactly led to their performance?

I'm not exactly sure what counts as a huge meme in China, but I'm guessing that this can be considered a popular meme even by Chinese standards for the following reasons:

  • They invited the original dancers from the Philippines to a Bilibili event
  • There are a ton of people doing the dance and posting a video
  • The videos made by Chinese Bilibili users are getting millions of views

The fact that Shin Takarajima is popular in China is not something everyone in Japan knows, but Ichiro Yamaguchi from Sakanaction does:

Morimori: Explaining what happened; Yamaguchi: "Oh! I'm glad"

I personally love that all of this happened because it's one of my favorite stories from the internet.

And because we talked about Sakanaction, I'll end with a few song recommendations from them.

Sakanaction - Music

This song has one of the best 1 minute 40 second segments of a song I've ever heard.

Sakanaction - Identity

Sakanaction - Mosu