A group of four Japanese men in their 50s and 60s is making waves on TikTok by wearing colorful belly warmers while awkwardly dancing to raise awareness of their countryside town’s population decline.
Known on TikTok as “Ojiqun” (“old heartthrobs”), the men, dressed in their belly warmers, long-sleeved shirts, ties and slacks, posted their first video in February. Takumi Shirase, 52, told Agence France-Presse that he created the group to promote Wake, their town in Japan’s Okayama Prefecture.
“We wanted to come up with something that would revitalize our aging countryside community, which is suffering from population decline with fewer and fewer children,” Shirase, who runs an IT company and a gardening business, was quoted as saying.
Wake, which has around 14,000 residents, is currently facing a population decline. Shirase noted that his old primary school and a local shopping center had to shut down.
In their videos, the men usually dance to modern-day pop songs while struggling to keep a straight face. They hope that the videos, which have been viewed over 16 million times total, can help bring more attention to their town. They currently have over 34,500 followers on TikTok, and many of their viewers have called their videos “adorable.”
The group’s most-viewed video so far, which was posted in March, features them dancing to the children’s song “My Name Is” by D Billions. Their video has received over 13.7 million views as of this writing.
“We hope to encourage people to come to Wake, either as tourists or as new residents,” Shirase said.