He was nominated to call out the Word of the Year in 2017, cycled 2,000km across Japan on a pushbike (not a racer), suffered defeat by the world’s largest gyoza dumpling and has introduced some of the best examples of Japan’s worst ‘Engrish’ words and phrases. If you’re an avid Japanese youtube viewer and you haven’t heard of Chris Broad from AbroadinJapan, then you’re not necessarily watching the wrong channels, but you’re definitely not watching all of the right ones.

Through his British charm and humorous sarcasm, Chris has introduced many to the life of an expat in Japan through his YouTube channel, AbroadinJapan, which has more than 2 million subscribers.
With more than 200 videos in total, ranging from tips to enjoy the very best of life (and how to avoid the bad bits) and travel in Japan, to professionally and beautifully created documentary style episodes introducing some of Japan’s hidden gems, you can always find something interesting, funny and uplifting on the AbroadinJapan channel.

In a recent interview with Real Sound Tech, Chris goes into detail about the motivations behind his channel and what we can expect to see from him over the next few months.

Chris describes himself as ‘an Ambitionist’, explaining;

‘I might make jokes, but I am always serious. One thing that is always on my mind and that I think is important is the fact that our time here is finite. I live by the latin phrase “Memento Mori” meaning ‘don’t forget death’. When I think in this way, I don’t have a day to waste.
I have great expectations as a filmmaker now, and I hope I can start a business in the future. Both my relocation to Japan, and working in video production are the result of being driven by the finiteness of time.’

One of the biggest motivators behind the channel comes from Chris’ experiences and love for the Tohoku region.
In 2011, the region had experienced one of the worst disasters in living memory; the Great Eastern Japan Earthquake, which led to a powerful tsunami and explosions of three nuclear reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant.
Arriving only months after the catastrophe, Chris was assigned to Yamagata Prefecture as an English teacher in 2012.

In the interview with Real Sound Tech, Chris recalls a friend saying “Speaking of tohoku, isn’t Fukushima where the earthquake struck? Is it okay?”. Yet the Fukushima which Chris could see with his own eyes was a beautiful and peaceful place, with only a few dangerous areas.
So in order to dispel the negative image of Fukushima, Chris utilised his youtube channel to create a documentary introducing the warm people who live there, and the current situation of the area.

Even today, Chris continues to fight the prejudice against Fukushima, and to promote the Tohoku region.
The AbroadinJapan team recognises that the Tohoku region is in need of promotion, and they have also begun working with local governments to promote the area. Chris has noticed a big bias that exists in Japanese tourist books sold both domestically and internationally, which will often see 30 pages or more dedicated to Tokyo, whilst the Tohoku section will only consist of 2 to 3 pages.
Chris has been battling this lack of promotion by posting numerous videos on YouTube, but he worries that it is not enough. He states ‘Just because we are advertising the area as a tourist destination, does not mean that it is an area inundated with crowds like Kyoto and Osaka. However, even if only a little, I believe and hope that people will learn the charms of Tohoku and make their way towards the region.’

Whilst Chris may be full of love for the Tohoku region, that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have appreciation for anywhere else in Japan. With more than 8 years experience of living in Japan, Chris’ ultimate goal is to share the parts of Japan that often go unseen.

In the interview, Chris went on to introduce a written series he is working on, that will focus on ‘conveying parts of Japan that even Japanese people overlook’. He explains how, unlike video viewers, an audience that reads will have to rely on their imagination to ‘see’ ‘hear’ and ‘experience’ what the writer is trying to share. This, he believes, will also allow him to communicate at a deeper and more meaningful level.

His video series ‘Journey Across Japan’ where he travelled approximately 2,000km across the country already introduced a number of areas that aren’t well known, and now he’s hoping to add to the collection with this new written series – ‘Japan, as not seen in guidebooks (ガイドブックに載っていない日本)’.

In addition to further promoting lesser known Japanese destinations, Chris wants to introduce and focus on the career paths of foreigners in Japan. With his own experiences of living in Japan as an expat, and how his dreams and ambitions haven’t changed because of that, but have instead evolved, he would like to focus on other foreigners and their stories of success in Japan.
Chris also wants to answer some of the most current questions which have come about due to the Coronavirus, such as how it continues to affect Japan, what it means for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, and what he has been up to since the outbreak.

The outbreak of the coronavirus in 2020 saw Chris and his team put a pause on creative productions. However, as the situation began to gradually improve in Japan, they carefully resumed activities from October.

You can keep up to date with Chris on not only his youtube channel, AbroadinJapan, but also on his instagram, twitter and travel website. For more in depth videos of behind the scenes sign up and subscribe to his PATREON channel.

By - Connie Sceaphierde.