Displaying The annoying movements of shirts, ties and brightly colored berry warmers have made four men in their 50s and 60s Japan’s latest TikTok sensation. What is the mission of the group? Promote a declining small country town through a dance routine to pop tunes that fans call “adorable.” Since its first post in February, videos shot in selected locations from playgrounds and shrines to the city hall have been viewed more than 16 million times.

The four call themselves “uncle”. This is a slang term used by young people that combines “uncle” which means “old man” and “kyun” which means “heartbeat” in Japanese. They wear suit trousers, smart shoes, and berry warmer bands of various colors (blue, green, yellow, red) to keep their faces straight even if they are not in time.

One of the members, Takumi Shirase, 52, runs an IT company and a gardening company when he’s not at TikTok. He told AFP that he and his three friends created Ojikun and attempted to map Wake, a rural town in the Okayama region of western Japan. “We wanted to come up with something to rejuvenate our aging rural community, which is suffering from a declining population with fewer and fewer children,” he said.

Wake currently has about 14,000 inhabitants, and Mr. Shirase said his old elementary school was closed due to lack of demand. Local shopping malls are gone, and annual festivals are no longer held in town. However, with more than 34,000 TikTok followers, “as a tourist or as a new resident, we want to encourage people to come to Wake,” says Shirase.

Ojiqun’s latest post, Centipede Dance, shows four men taking a stupid, crazy walk in a row in front of a concrete building directing the “House of Fun.” increase. Fans comment on each video with a heart symbol, calling it “wonderful” and “adorable.” “I laughed over and over again,” said one recent comment. “It’s been a while since I had a peaceful smile,” said another. -AFP

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