Japanese Documentary of Outbreak in China Goes Viral

A capture from the documentary shows Takeuchi is taking temperature before going back to the community where he lives.(Provided to Xinhua)

NANJING (Xinhua) — Ryo Takeuchi, a Japanese director now living in Nanjing, capital of east China’s Jiangsu Province, never expected the documentary he made at the time of the novel coronavirus outbreak would go viral in both Japan and China.

“I’ve been working on filming documentaries for over 20 years. This is the most popular one,” the 42-year-old director said.

In 2013, Takeuchi followed his Chinese wife, whom he met in Japan, to settle down in her hometown of Nanjing. They started a company that specializes in short video shooting and production and is engaged in cultural exchanges between China and Japan.

In mid-February, Takeuchi returned to Nanjing from Japan on a business trip and began a two-week quarantine.


At first, he was uncomfortable to be kept in isolation and wondered “if it was too much.”

“But I later found that the strict measures protected both ourselves and others from the epidemic. They are proven to be appropriate and effective,” he said.

Moreover, the solidarity and support the workers in his residential community showed in the fight against COVID-19 were far beyond his expectations.

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“I’m so grateful that during my quarantine period, they went to buy vegetables for us and then delivered them to my doorstep,” he recalled.

Takeuchi has been closely following the outbreak in Japan as the coronavirus spreads there. He was also very worried when he learned that some Japanese people had no sense of crisis at the beginning, including taking the subway without wearing a mask and gathering for concerts.

“They had some misunderstandings about the epidemic in China. They just saw the figures and thought the death rate wasn’t high,” he said.

“In fact, the relatively low death rate is due to the fact that tens of thousands of Chinese medical workers were mobilized and dispatched to the front lines and millions of Chinese people have made great sacrifices.”

When his quarantine period ended, Takeuchi decided to go out and film a documentary recording the daily lives of ordinary people in Nanjing amid the outbreak, helping the Japanese public learn about the measures taken by China to curb the spread of COVID-19.

During the shooting, he visited a fast-food chain, where he found all the takeout bags attached with a “no-contact card” writing the name and health condition of the cook to reassure customers.

When he took taxis, he found the vehicles had been equipped with protective plastic films to avoid cross-infection between drivers and passengers in the back seats.

Takeuchi admired the city’s resolute and powerful efforts to combat the virus and the remarkable results achieved.

So far, Nanjing has seen no new confirmed COVID-19 cases for more than 20 consecutive days and all the confirmed patients had been discharged from hospitals after recovery.

Takeuchi and his crew completed the documentary in just four days, including planning, filming and editing.

Once released on March 2, the 10-minute documentary garnered tens of millions of hits on Japanese sharing platforms and had sparked wide discussion online.

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“I hope all Japanese could watch this video,” said a Japanese netizen who shared the documentary.

Major television stations in Japan, including TV Asahi, TBS and Fuji TV, broadcast it repeatedly and explained its contents in detail to the public, he said.

The Japanese viewers were shocked by the rigorous control measures taken by Nanjing in the short video, such as wearing a mask when going out, taking temperatures when returning to residential communities and resuming work and study online, and realized that it was the right way to contain the outbreak.

“As long as the documentary is seen by people in Japan and even more countries, and arouses their attention and thinking, my goal is achieved,” said Takeuchi.

To his surprise, the documentary, which was made for Japanese people, has also become a hit in China. It has been translated into Chinese and viewed more than 10 million times on Chinese social media platform Weibo alone.

“A 10-minute video is not long enough.” “It seems that even many Chinese people don’t know as much about the details in their cities,” wrote some Chinese netizens.


Takeuchi said some English subtitle groups have contacted him with a desire to translate the documentary.

Takeuchi is also the director of the internet documentary series “The Reason I Live Here,” which chronicled Chinese living abroad and foreigners who live in China, including a wide variety of Japanese citizens.

“I hope to produce more films about the society and culture in both China and Japan in the future, so that we can understand each other more and deepen the friendship between the two countries,” he said.