Since last year, the novel coronavirus pandemic has had a drastic impact on our lives. In Japan, as is the case in many parts of the world, more people are refraining from going out, events and functions have been canceled, and consumption of food and drink has also decreased, all of which has been hard on the Japanese economy.

MAFF's dance video becomes a hot topic

The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (or MAFF for short) has been posting videos on YouTube. Their channel called BUZZ MAFF, which currently has over 61,000 subscribers, is operated by MAFF staff and aims to show viewers "what the farms, forests, and fisheries of Japan have to offer, as well as the charm of Japan’s rural areas." They pride themselves on being the "first bureaucrat YouTubers of Kasumigaseki," the Tokyo district where most Japanese government offices are located and a commonly used metonym for the Japanese government bureaucracy.

"National Civil Servants tried to dance"

The so-called 踊ってみた odottemita (literally, "I tried to dance") genre of videos has been around since 2007. Fans of mostly Vocaloid or J-pop upload dance videos to popular video sharing sites like NicoNico Douga and YouTube. However, it's safe to say that there has never been an odottemita video from the heart of Kasumigaseki until now.

BUZZ MAFF's video, released on March 5th, 2021 and entitled 【農水省】国家公務員も踊ってみた〜日本酒ダンス〜 which translates as "[MAFF] National Civil Servants tried to dance: Sake Dance", has generated an outpouring of responses from the Internet, and it's not hard to see why. National public servants in Japan tend to have a very uptight image, so watching their hilarious antics, their dancing, singing and even rapping was a pleasant surprise for many viewers.

Take a look for yourself:

Spotlight on sake

As the representative explains in the talking portion of the video which follows the video, the domestic consumption of sake has significantly decreased due to the spread of the novel coronavirus infection. Hoping to raise awareness of the issue, MAFF borrowed a song from the Central Union of Sake Brewers of Japan and danced together with actual sake producers to promote the excellence of Japanese sake! The combination of Japanese instruments and rap music is quite impressive.

The lyrics are provided in the video's description. Here's an excerpt along with our best attempt at translation (we took some liberty with it):


Reminiscing how I used to make sake every year,
feeling like a father to his children so dear.
My sake rice. Next year, maybe I'll be making no more.
Because people won't be drinking sake anymore.
Wanna shout. Dining out, no longer can we do.
Sake we should be enjoying at home too.
Crying over inventory but we're not going to lose
to COVID-19, so check out our moves.


The rhyming lyrics convey the deep love the producers have for their sake, as well as their hatred for the coronavirus!

Of course, you can't have an odottemita video without busting some moves, and they went straight to the source, hiring popular odorite (odottemita dancer) ぶんけい Bunkei as advisor, and learning moves from choreography unit 8naraB. Their hard work paid off, and you can enjoy the contrast between their staid suited up appearance and their sharp dancing skills.

Music and composition is courtesy of renowned producer Michitomo, and avex entertainment creative planner and coordinator Satoshi Takagi also advised on the project.

Other video contributors include the Japan Sake Shochu Makers Association, Ōsaki City Matsuyama, the Sake Rice Research Group and the Japan Agricultural Cooperatives Shin Miyagi branch.

The video, which really conveys the passion of the Ministry of the MAFF, has gone viral, receiving numerous plaudits such as:

  • It made me want to buy a whole box of sake bottles! Kampai to this video!
  • MAFF's feelings really came through. I'll be buying some sake to take home tonight.
  • I'm a fan of BUZZ MAFF, so I was excited to see the all-star lineup!

You can be sure many (adults) who watched this video thought to themselves: "I want to have a drink!

Why not buy some famous sake from each region of Japan to show your support!

If you enjoyed the vocals, that's TASOGARE Matsuoka, an actual civil servant working at MAFF who enjoys showing off his musical and vocal talents on the BUZZ MAFF channel. For example, in this video, he takes a very dry presentation video on GI (Geographical Indication) and turns it into a rap song.

You can check out more at BUZZ MAFF's channel here.

By - Ben K.