Thursday, December 29, 2016

Caroline Kennedy Dances in a Christmas Video, and Japan Can’t Get Enough

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By MIKE IVES DEC. 23, 2016,  "Caroline Kennedy Dances in a Christmas Video, and Japan Can’t Get Enough [article contains a video of the wiggling ambassador, dressed up as Santa]," New York Times

HONG KONG — The Japanese public pays careful attention to the words and deeds
of Caroline Kennedy, the United States ambassador to Japan and one of the State
Department’s best-­known diplomats.

But Ms. Kennedy generated an unusual buzz in Tokyo this week by doing
something that is almost certainly not in her job description: wearing a Santa suit
and dancing in a quirky video.

The 93-­second video, uploaded to YouTube on Tuesday, features United States
Embassy employees and consular officials across Japan mimicking dance moves
from “We Married as a Job!”, a popular Japanese television series. By Friday
afternoon, the video had been viewed more than 3.5 million times on YouTube.

Some social media users said the timing of the video’s release, one week after an
American military Osprey aircraft crash-­landed off Okinawa, setting off anti-American
protests, was indelicate. But many others welcomed it as pure
entertainment or as a sign of warm ties between the two countries.

“Wow, this is great,” one person wrote in Japanese on YouTube. “Americans are
really good at getting carried away. A boring Japanese government would never do

The television series premiered in October and stars a love-lorn information
technology worker who hires an unemployed woman to pretend to be his wife and do
chores around his Tokyo apartment. They end up falling in love.

The show’s closing dance features five characters performing goofy,
choreographed moves in the man’s living room, to the sounds of a peppy song titled
“Koi,’’ or “Love.’’ It became a sensation on Japanese social media, and people around
the country — including a group of famous figure skaters — have uploaded their own
versions of the “Koi Dance.”

In the embassy’s version, Ms. Kennedy performs the opening move, which looks
vaguely like a yoga pose, to the song from the show. Other scenes show members of
her staff dancing around their offices in Christmas hats and sweaters, as one official
lip syncs the lyrics.

The video also includes a cameo by a person dressed as the bear Kumamon, the
rosy-­cheeked mascot for the southern prefecture of Kumamoto, who dances beside a
team of fake reindeer.

Asked to comment on the video, Jonas D. Stewart, an embassy spokesman in
Tokyo, said that “quite a few” of the embassy’s Japanese and American staff
members were fans of the television show, and that they had been inspired to
interpret the Koi Dance after watching others on social media. He also expressed
gratitude to Kumamon for agreeing to dance in the embassy’s video.

“We thought people would enjoy it,” he said, “but we had no idea how popular it
would become.”

Hisako Ueno contributed reporting from Tokyo.

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