The Japan Times: "Romance dance routine featuring Santa-clad Ambassador Kennedy an instant online hit"

by Joseph McKeown

US Ambassador Caroline Kennedy and Embassy staff in Japan made a special Christmas video that has since become a social media hit with over five million views. The video consists of the US embassy version of a koi (falling in love) dance routine from a popular Japanese TV drama series “Nigeru wa Hajidaga Yaku ni Tatsu” (roughly translated as “Running Away is Shameful but Useful”). 

The video begins with Santa-clad Kennedy performing the choreographed dance, and she is joined by various other diplomats and staff from the US Embassy office in Tokyo as well as the Consulate offices in Sapporo, Nagoya, Osaka, Kobe, Fukuoka, and Okinawa. US Embassy spokeswoman Marrie Schaefer says the diplomatic mission was “pleasantly surprised”  at the response to the video, especially considering the video was originally meant to just be shared internally. “This is the holiday season and we try to do something nice and light, and we try to be merry, like Merry Christmas,” Schaefer tells the Japan Times. “Originally we were just going to do something internal, to say ‘Hey guys!’ in the mission… But after it was finished we said, ‘This is good! We should upload it!’ And everyone said, ‘Great idea!’ and so that’s what we did.” A female staffer at the US Embassy filmed and choreographed the movements. “We practiced, but we didn’t have to practice a whole day,” Shaefer says. “We do have other work to do.”  

The dance is inspired by the theme song from the TV drama which features actress Yui Aragaki and actor/singer Gen Hoshino, who also sings the theme song. Hoshino plays an “introvert computer engineer who nurtures love and trust with a woman with whom he gets into a fake marriage.” In a nod to the show, the Embassy video also features one male official wearing eyeglasses and acting like the husband character played by Hoshino.

With this video, the US Embassy joins a growing list of people and institutions across Japan that have joined the “koi dance boom” and filmed and uploaded their own versions. The US Embassy dance video impressed many YouTube users, with some commenting on the “high quality” of the dance and the showmanship. “This would make even (US President-elect Donald) Trump smile,” one user commented. 

It wasn’t just the US Embassy in Japan making cute holiday greetings. Inspired no doubt by James Corden’s “Carpool Karaoke,” the US Embassy in Oslo, Norway released a creative Christmas video. The video features Ambassador Samuel Heins, who is spending his first Christmas in Norway, singer Tone Damli, and journalist Ole Torp, who drive around Oslo singing Christmas carols and practicing Norwegian in their quest to find “julestemming,” a.k.a. true holiday spirit.

Not to be outdone, the US Embassy in Prague posted a video showing US Embassy employees singing one of the best-loved Czech Christmas carols “Půjdem spolu do Betléma” (“We will go to Bethlehem Together”). The video starts with Cultural Attaché Erin Kotheimer and Ray Castillo, Counselor for Public Affairs, breaking into the song. As they walk around the US ambassador’s residence, other employees join them. Finally, Ambassador Andrew Schapiro shows up to wish Czechs a Merry Christmas on behalf of the staff.  

We hope to see more creative videos from Embassy staff worldwide in the future (and, who knows, perhaps one from Daryanani Law Group). Happy Holidays!