Longtime residents of Japan will invariably know the pain of returning to their home country for a visit and being met with the question, “Is it really true that in Japan people do this?” Sadly, it’s always more of a statement waiting for confirmation than an actual question. No-one really wants to hear the truth behind their false assumption, and it gets tiring correcting people all the time.
However, sometimes Japan is weird. To honor that weirdness, we’ve rounded up some of the strangest music videos, clips and commercials that have both amused and disturbed us. We have chosen to omit a large number of them to keep the list safe for work, because some things cannot be unseen.
From the curiously quirky to the downright indecent, here are our top ten weirdest Japanese videos:
10. Nissin Cup Noodles Commercials
Known for their creative and entertaining commercials, Nissin has several series that are weird, wonderful, and hilarious. The first one, for UFO, is simply odd, while the second one from the “Survive” series is quite clever. Check out the Nissin official YouTube page for more excellent clips like these:
9. Gin no Sara Commercials
Sushi chain Gin no Sara is no stranger to weird and wonderful commercials and has made a number of memorable ones over the years, with multiple involving people turning into sushi dishes or ingredients. One all-time favorite is a commercial showing the dedication of sushi chefs to their craft — they’re willing to put their lives on the line for your dinner.
8. Club Prince – Love Dokkyun
A group of hosts-turned-pop stars sing about… being hosts. Formerly with Avex, these pretty silver-tongued lads made the move to Universal since 2010. This golden nugget of insight into host lingo and culture came out in 2007.
7. Eikaiwa Taiso Zuiikin English – English Through Aerobics
Old school internet users will remember the first time this series went viral, in the days before Facebook, Twitter, or any other mainstream social media existed. Eikawa Taiso Zuiikin English was an early morning 1992 TV show on Fuji TV that purported to help viewers with English and allow them to get some exercise at the same time. The movements were supposed to make memorizing easier, but the show never gained a large following. The Internet, however, once made aware, loved it:
6. DJ Ozma – Drinking Boyz
DJ Ozma is known for his kitch eurodance tracks and has combined his cheesiness with the thankfully rare drunk salaryman performance art, sometimes known as obon gei. The occasional salaryman at a company nomikai may get carried away and decide to strip down and do a dance featuring only himself and a couple of obon, or food trays. At least there are no beer bellies, and the dancers seem quite adept so no chance for anything unintentional being seen.
5. Miyagi Prefecture Promotional Video
Our most recent contender is a promotional video for Miyagi prefecture featuring Mitsu Dan, a gravure idol, and the official Miyagi mascot, Musubimaru. Oh, and some flying turtles. Along with a mish-mash of bad graphics and bizarre close-ups of Mitsu Dan’s lips, there are several scenes where Mitsu Dan is seen stroking both the mascot, and the head of one of the turtles. Perhaps the most offensive part of the ad, though, is that it reportedly cost 23 million yen to make.
4. The Eel Girl
This commercial for Shibushi city in Fukushima was intended to promote the area’s dedication to sustainable eel farming, but viewers reacted so strongly to it that it was pulled off air. A teenage girl in a swimsuit asks to be fed, with the narrator explaining he fed her until she was full and let her sleep a lot. The girl eventually turns into an eel, which is later grilled. Viewers complained that the ad gave the impression that the girl was held hostage, while others simply found it unsettling and bizarre.
3. Inochi Kun: Short film
Often mistaken for a set of commercials, the story of Inochi-kun was originally a short story set in parts. The art project was part of an advertising campaign for artist Takashi Murakami’s 2004 “Inochi” art exhibition at Kaikai Kiki Gallery. The little robot boy Inochi, who’s name means “life” in Japanese, is very much alive and in the middle of pre-pubescent turmoil. The clips are less odd when knowing about the art project, but the series was initially aired without any explanation, leaving viewers to wonder what the commercial was for, and why it featured an alien boy peeping at girls changing their clothes.
2. Hentai Kamen: Public Service Announcement
More of an anti-hero than Deadpool, Hentai Kamen is an introverted high school kid who gains superpowers when he puts women’s underwear on his head. Originally a manga called “Kyukyokku Hentai Kamen” by Keishu Ando, it gained enough popularity to get two live action movies made, in 2013 and again in 2016. This forbidden hero is tag lined as “He may not be the hero we deserve, but he’s the hero we need.”
Here, as part of the pre-movie announcements, Hentai Kamen explains how people should behave while watching a movie at the theater:
And here’s a trailer for the 2013 film, Hentai Kamen: The Forbidden Hero.
1. Funky Forest: The First Contact
Neither a music video nor a a commercial, but quite possibly the weirdest thing to ever come out of Japan, this film deserves the number one spot. Brainchild of director Katsuhito Ishii along with filmmakers Shinichiro Miki and Hajime Ishimine this whole movie is…. odd. If you asked us what it was about, we couldn’t tell you. We can tell you it’s disgusting, bizarre, and at times, funny. The trailer is quite tame, as we don’t want to take responsibility for what may happen should you watch a real clip from the film. Watch at your own risk.
Honorable Mention: Chicken Attack
As this isn’t a wholly Japanese production it doesn’t make our official top 10 list, but it’s weird enough to deserve some attention. A collaborative effort between expert yodeler Takeo Ischii and Song Voyage on YouTube, this music video explains in great detail what will happen if you’re doing bad things.
We know there must be more bizarre videos other than these — if you think we’ve missed some, let us know in the comments which ones. We’d love to see more!