The popular vloggers were forced to apologise after their actions sparked outrage in Japan.

YouTubers around the world have built huge followings by filming pranks and challenges, which have become a popular way to bring in views and likes for a channel.

In Japan recently, YouTubers Mizutamari Bond uploaded a video which was part-prank, part-challenge, but instead of drawing positive reactions from viewers, they ended up sparking outrage for its controversial content.

The challenge was to unlock a Japanese puzzle box, something which has become a bit of a trend amongst Japanese YouTubers in recent years, due to the fact that the boxes are notoriously difficult to open. A set order of flicks, sometimes numbering over 100, are required to move hidden pieces which eventually unlock the box and reveal the secret compartment.

▼ The box that Mizutamari Bond used for the challenge was similar to this one, which requires 27 steps to open.

A special local craft of Hakone, Japanese puzzle boxes are highly sought-after souvenirs handmade by craftsmen. The art of making these boxes, using traditional wooden marquetry with detailed geometrical patterns, was registered as a Traditional Craft of Japan in 1984.

Mizutamari Bond, which is made up of YouTubers Kanta and Tommy, decided to feature this box in their video challenge, but with a twist. In order to ensure he would win the challenge, Kanta decided to glue all the moving parts on Tommy’s box together so it would be impossible for him to open.

▼ Kanta put a lot of elbow grease into gluing the box.

He then learnt how to open the box by watching an instructional video and memorising the steps, before meeting up with Tommy to complete the challenge.

As expected, Kanta completed the challenge in record time, while Tommy was left frustrated when he was unable to move any of the parts. In a desperate attempt to open  the box, Tommy eventually hit it against the wall, which broke the end off and revealed the secret compartment.

▼ If you remember what we saw in the instructional video above, the end bit is not designed to come off, even when the box is opened.

This is where many viewers took issue with the clip, berating the duo for showing such blatant disrespect for a respected traditional art.

“How dare you destroy something that a craftsman put his heart into, just for views.”
“If the craftsman who made the box were to watch the video he would be heartbroken.”
“The part with Kanta supergluing the box together was bad enough, but the worst part was Tommy smashing the box.”
“I really like you guys but I didn’t like this video at all. Traditional crafts are important and should be treated with respect.”
“What will happen to Japanese crafts if people who see this decide to copy your actions?”

As the 10th most subscribed YouTube channel in Japan, with over 3.5 million subscribers, Mizutamari Bond do have a large influence, and as a result of the controversy, the YouTubers posted an apology in the caption for the video.

“We filmed this without any real knowledge of traditional Japanese marquetry. Therefore, we believe our actions in this video were thoughtless. As we will put more consideration into what we film in future, we request that viewers do not imitate our actions.”

The video, uploaded to YouTube on 26 November, remains on the site despite the controversy surrounding it. Opinions also remain divided on the public backlash from the video and the duo’s subsequent apology, with some believing they were judged too harshly and needn’t have apologised.

However, once you realise the insane amount of time and skill required to create Japanese marquetry, let alone the complex puzzle boxes, it’s hard to condone any act that destroys it.

Source: Hachima Kikou
Featured image: YouTube/水溜りボンド