A rise in the antics of nuisance influencers in Japan, who are accused of duping train ticket collectors and pretending to be homeless to get cash, has caused consternation in the country as tourism number near their pre-pandemic levels.
A Japanese railway company is looking into accusations that four popular YouTubers from other countries traveled on trains for long distances without paying. One of the individuals, who goes by the name Fidias on the internet, uploaded a video to his 2.38 million followers this past weekend, which depicted him and three others avoiding train personnel and receiving free food.
He pretends to be sick when a ticket collector questions him by locking himself in the bathroom of a high-speed train in one video.
The YouTube content creator from Cyprus, known as Fidias Panayiotou, proceeds to take another train, vowing to repeat the same stunt.
In another video, the individual who refers to themselves as a “professional mistake maker” is seen posing as a hotel guest in order to receive a complimentary breakfast.
On a video posted on X, previously known as Twitter, he can be heard bragging about how he successfully talked his way into a luxurious Japanese buffet at a Kyoto hotel. He proudly declares that they were able to leave the hotel without getting caught and without any issues.
In other parts of the footage, the group can be seen asking for money from individuals in order to cover the cost of tickets.
Although Panayiotou’s supporters praised his boldness, the response from other individuals on social media was largely unfavorable, with some accusing him of exploiting Japan’s image for being a safe and welcoming country.
Someone else commented that another irritating YouTuber from a foreign country has appeared. They added that, along with Fidias, the other three individuals should be taken into custody.
Someone else stated: “Japan is known as one of the most secure countries globally. I hope that tourists do not harm our environment. If there is an influx of foreign visitors behaving in this manner, we will no longer welcome them.”
Due to high levels of visitors at popular tourist destinations and negative actions like public drinking and littering, the government is taking action to decrease over-tourism. This includes increasing train fares and promoting less-frequented rural areas as alternative destinations.
“According to Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, in specific regions and time periods, the negative behavior of tourists has affected the daily lives of local inhabitants.”
Panayiotou’s videos surfaced shortly after Johnny Somali, a popular American live streamer, was taken into custody for recording himself trespassing on a construction site in Osaka.
Last month, the individual who goes by the name Ismael Ramsey Khalid and is 23 years old was charged with trespassing.
According to media reports, he and another citizen of the United States are accused of trespassing into a hotel that was almost finished. Khalid shared a video where he can be heard shouting “Fukushima” multiple times at the construction workers who requested him to depart.
Khalid’s previous videos have sparked outrage and outrage in Japan, particularly those in which he makes light of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. He was arrested again this month for recording inside a restaurant in Osaka without authorization and playing loud music.
JR Kyushu, the train operator, stated that they would review the footage of Panayiotou and his fellow YouTubers before determining if they should inform the police. A spokesperson for the company informed Agence France-Presse that they are currently looking into the details of the incident.
Panayiotou later expressed regret on his YouTube channel, acknowledging that he had not familiarized himself with Japanese cultural customs prior to creating the videos. “I am sorry if we offended the Japanese people,” he stated. “Moving forward, I will conduct more thorough research on the cultures we visit to prevent a similar situation from occurring.”
The timing of the videos’ recording is uncertain and it is unknown if the four individuals are currently in Japan.
Although there are many well-known YouTube channels that cover various aspects of life in Japan, only a select few have gained online fame through their visits to the country.
In 2017, there was widespread outrage when the famous YouTuber Logan Paul uploaded a video featuring the body of someone who appeared to have died by suicide.
The social media star, who has now shifted to competing in boxing and professional wrestling, faced criticism for making light of a serious topic when he and his friends made jokes about finding a body in the Aokigahara forest, a well-known location for suicides at the foot of Mount Fuji. The video was viewed by millions before being taken down.
In recent months, a number of Japanese individuals who play pranks online have also faced consequences for their actions.
Earlier this year, a number of individuals were detained following the release of videos showing them tampering with food at conveyor belt sushi and other fast-food establishments. As a result, the industry was prompted to implement urgent hygiene protocols.
Ryoga Yoshino, 21, was given a suspended prison sentence this month over a video that showed him drinking straight from a shared soy sauce bottle and stealing sushi from plates as they passed by – one of several similar incidents the media dubbed “sushi terrorism”.