Ken Tanaka

“Is Japan racist?”: New video humorously confronts long-standing question

There have been several commercials pulled off the air in Japan that some have dubbed “racist” and plenty of online banter to add to the debate. But we’ve also seen anti-anti-Korean protesters in Tokyo willing to stand up against truly hateful right-wing activists and many other examples of Japanese citizens whose actions seem to show that Japan is not as xenophobic as some may believe.

So is Japan racist? It seems there isn’t a clear-cut answer, but leave it to “twin brothers” Ken Tanaka and David Ury to bring us a humors video confronting this long-standing question.

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“But we’re speaking Japanese!”: Humorous video confronts lingering stereotypes in Japan

One of the most frustrating parts about living in Japan was when I would go out to dinner with my husband. No, it wasn’t because I wasn’t able to read the menu or because I don’t like Japanese food – it was because more often than not, the server wouldn’t speak to me.

Since my Vietnamese-American husband cannot speak or read Japanese, I would always do the ordering. What the servers saw was a woman with a caucasian face speaking Japanese and what appeared to be a Japanese man not ordering for himself. After placing my order in Japanese, the server would turn to my husband (who couldn’t understand anything she was saying) and ask follow up questions about our drink order or any add ons. I would in turn, translate for my husband in English, and then answer our server in Japanese, but any remaining questions would be directed once again to my husband. This language triangle would continue until all the ordering was completed.

Of course, this didn’t happen every time, but enough for both my husband and I to take notice. When relating the story to my friends, many would confirm that they have encountered a similar situation. Some would posit that the server thought my husband was letting me practice my Japanese and was looking to him to confirm that’s actually what I wanted. But no matter the reason, I was always left a little frustrated.

A recent video on YouTube titled, “But we’re speaking Japanese!” confronts this exact situation, bringing light to a lingering stereotype in Japan.

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Who is David Ury? And who the heck is Ken Tanaka? – An interview with the “twin brothers”

We first came across David Ury and his alleged twin brother, Ken Tanaka, after seeing their video titled “Ken Tanaka and David Ury Japanese accent training.” The video features two men of similar physical characteristics having a conversation in Japanese with very different accents. Intrigued, I found myself combing the internet for any information regarding the pair and learned that David Ury is an American actor and Ken Tanaka is his long-lost twin brother who was adopted by a family in Japan. Various videos on Ken’s helpmefindparents YouTube channel seemed to verify this information, showing Ken and David speaking to each other in the same room.

But whispers of controversy surround the brothers despite the online existence of two completely distinct people. Is Ken Tanaka actually just David Ury showing off his acting skills? We set up an interview with David hoping to find out more about the talented actor behind the perfect Japanese accent.

What we landed up with was some of the best Japanese study advice we’ve ever heard, some anecdotes about crazy adventures in Japan and an introduction to a comedic book about death.

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How good is your Japanese accent? Maybe this video can help you improve

It doesn’t matter how long you’ve studied Japanese or how many kanji you can successfully identify, if you still sound like you’re speaking English when you are in fact speaking Japanese, you’re going to look like a dumb gaijin.

But it’s hard to identify your level of fluency when it comes to pronunciation and we’re hoping the following video can help. This is hands down the best side-by-side comparison of an excellent and…shall we say “authentic American” Japanese accent executed by “twin brothers” David Ury and Ken Tanaka.

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