B.C. native becomes a YouTube celebrity in Japan

Jordana Divon
Contributing Writer
Daily Brew

Micaela Braithwaite may not have a full-time job (yet), but the 24-year-old has turned that extra time into an online boon.

In the seven years since the Kamloops, B.C. native moved to Fukuoka, Japan (about 885 km west of Tokyo), she's become a YouTube sensation for her fun, quirky videos about life on the Asian archipelago.

In the process, she's also become an informal cultural ambassador between Canada and Japan.

"I never really intended to stay here forever," she told the Vancouver Sun. "[But] I love it — that's why I'm still here — and it's really easy to live."

The Japanese appear to love her, too. Braithwaite's videos are well edited, nicely shot, and she comes across as both personable and engaging in her delivery — factors that have no doubt contributed to her popularity.

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Topics range from her favourite Japanese dessert (baked pudding) and a tour of a popular recycling store to weightier issues, like the obstacles she says she's faced because of her skin colour while looking for work.

"That's a whole other can of worms I'll open in another video," she told her thousands of subscribers.

The good news is she's financially soluble for now. Third-party advertisers have jumped at the chance to place their commercials at the beginning of Braithwaite's videos, and though she won't reveal specifics, she told the Sun it was enough money to live on with only part-time employment.

Now that she's racked up a total of 13 million views on her YouTube channel, Braithwaite revealed that her initial foray into video blogging started as a way to reassure her parents that their little girl was doing just fine on her own.

"When I was around 18 or 19 years old, I was living by myself and my parents were always really worried about me," she told the paper. "And I thought, 'Hey I'm going to show you around, I'm going to show you how peaceful my life is and how cool things are here.'"

What started off as a way to stay in touch has turned into a cross-cultural phenomenon, with commenters communicating in both English and Japanese.

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The unwitting entrepreneur takes an active role with her fans as well, asking them to spout off on their favourite topics and personally answering most of the questions she receives.

Also impressive? Braithwaite's command of Japanese, a skill she's honed through years of language study.

Though she's still uncertain about her future career plans, Braithwaite may want to look to China for inspiration.

With her grip on the language, her great personality and her telegenic face, she could be primed to follow in Dashan's big footsteps.