“Chill Tokyo vlog” — put together, are they not the three most beautiful words in the English language? More beautiful than “cellar door,” or at least a 21st-century update? Someone on Twitter (I’m sorry, I lost track of who) recently pointed me to the YouTube channel Kiryeong:
It’s the account of a Korean woman in Tokyo who makes compilations of herself moving through her normal daily routine: Going to 711, getting coffee, going to work in an office, buying lunch at a different convenience store, heading back to her apartment, cooking simple meals for one like yakisoba or kimchi stew, and watching TV on her laptop. Sometimes she heads out of the city with friends to try a new restaurant or see autumn leaves. The videos are around 20 minutes long and are smoothly edited into a perfect hypnotic blur: coffee-office-kitchen, coffee-office-kitchen. I find them incredibly relaxing.
The pleasure is somewhat voyeuristic: This is what it would be like to be a thoroughly normal young adult in Tokyo. But it’s also very relatable. The biggest pleasures left to us city-dwellers in the pandemic are things like choosing what kind of coffee or bagel to buy. It’s like POV: You are shopping for groceries.
There’s a comfortable, unpretentious normalcy to the videos, but they’re heightened by the explanatory captions offering pithy commentary on the content: “Yasubee is the best tsukemen restaurant to me.” “Every morning routine: taking nutritional supplements.” “It’s been a year since I’ve been here.” We all have our similarly normal personal opinions and experiences. Dirt fans know I love Netflix’s Terrace House, and this is pretty much like a single-person version of that mundane reality show, with extra B-roll. (We love B-roll.) Or it’s an IRL version of this Rainy Days in Tokyo mixtape: downbeat happiness.
I am not a vlogging expert. Kiryeong could be already famous to some readers — though the account doesn’t have many Twitter mentions, the videos get hundreds of thousands of views. Mostly I don’t want to think about it; I just want to watch. — By Kyle Chayka
The Dirt: Chill normal vibes only.
— See also Meghan McCarron’s Eater essay on the soothing YouTube channel Imamu Room, where a woman makes very normal bento boxes for her husband. There’s real cooking education going on: “Watching these videos gives me a sense not just of how to make individual dishes, but how bento come together, and what techniques and flavor combinations are commonly used.”