Watanabe acknowledged anti-Asian sentiment in the States on her livestream but consoled viewers with a kind tale from the streets of New York.

Comedian, fashion designer, and actress Naomi Watanabe has only been going from strength to strength in recent years, with a slew of viral hits under her belt as well as work with beloved franchises both within Japan and across the globe. After moving to New York earlier this year, she’s set her future ambitions accordingly high while keeping contact with her base back in Japan through a series of livestreams on her official YouTube channel.

Naomi’s livestreams are incredibly comfortable affairs where she sits down in front of the camera, often with a meal or a snack, and just chats happily away to her commenters.

In this recent broadcast, her first in about five months, she catches up with her fans and lets them know how everything is going stateside. She chats about how happy she was to find an authentic Japanese grocery store, which is where she bought the natto she’s eating on camera; her new hair extensions, which she got fitted at an American parlor and was surprised to have the option to clip in a full head all at once, and her latest manicure, which features several Sailor Moon designs.

At around the thirty-minute mark, she admits that there’s been a lot of news about racism that caused her to doubt the intentions of people around her. Then she adds that she’s been meaning to share something semi-related to that topic. “But lemme eat some more of my dinner first, okay?” she grins.

After a little bow to the camera, a customary “gochisousama deshita”, and a swig of energy drink she explains:

“There are these cars in New York that I use…they’re called Ubers. When I’m in one with a friend and we’re chatting in Japanese, the driver will always comment something like, ‘Hey, what language are you guys speaking?’ so I answer, ‘Oh, it’s Japanese.’ And nine times out of ten they’ll reply like ‘Oh, Japanese! It’s sooo pleasant to listen to. It feels so nice. It’s such a gentle language, isn’t it!'”

“People here don’t tend to understand Japanese when they hear it, but they really love to hear it. I also got responses like ‘Oh, I love Japan! The people there are so kind and nice. So peaceful. I love hearing the Japanese language.’ I think that what must have happened is that lots of our Japanese ancestors must have moved to New York and had great relations there, and built up this great reserve of trust. It makes me want to follow their example and be a great, kind person, as another Japanese person.”

Considering the anti-Asian hate crimes that have sprung up in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, particularly the ones reported on from the United States, there has been some trepidation from Japanese travelers about visiting America. The users who were chatting alongside Naomi’s livestream seemed delighted to hear this much more positive encounter:

“Oh, hearing that warms my heart a lot.”
“I’ve definitely gotten those impressions while living abroad, too.”

“This makes me wanna go visit America!”
“That’s the best compliment you could hope for about your language.”
“I think they were just charmed by Naomi’s lovely personality.”

“I wanna be the kind of Japanese person who can maintain that good impression they have of us.”

Considering how gracefully Naomi has cast off disparaging remarks in the past, it certainly comes as no surprise to hear that she has a sunny and optimistic attitude about living Stateside. Stay tuned to hear whatever she’s up to next!

Source: YouTube/NAOMI CLUB via Hachima Kikou
Top image: YouTube/NAOMI CLUB

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