Arts

Just Japan host and U of O alum finds success talking about life in a foreign land

Photo: courtesy of Kevin O’Shea

A University of Ottawa alumnus has become a rising star in Japanese podcasting.

Kevin O’Shea’s journey to success in the podcast world began while working in South Korea in between his years of undergrad and teachers college. It was while teaching English there that he met the woman he would marry. She was from Japan and he from Canada, and after O’Shea finished his teaching degree in 2008, he moved to start a life in Kobe, Japan.

It was not until his roots were aptly set that he would use the audience he built video-blogging on YouTube to launch a podcast about what it’s like to live and work in Japan. The podcast is called Just Japan, and features either a guest or a co-host coming on to talk with O’Shea about various aspects of their life in the country.

“In the beginning I interviewed people I knew, but because I was an active member of the Japan YouTube community, I had a network of some very interesting friends,” O’Shea says in an email to the Fulcrum.

O’Shea then turned to social media to help him find interesting people for the show. He used Twitter to connect with them, and as the show has grown, people have begun to reach out to him with their stories.

Within 50 episodes, the podcast has become a hit, developing a significant following and even resulting in a nomination at the 2015 Podcast Awards in the travel category. For the host, this has been a welcome journey.

“I’m happy,” says O’Shea. “In podcast terms, a year is a short time. In just a little more than a year I have grown from a few dozen listeners on the first episode to almost 16,000 downloads this month alone. I’m excited.”

Given the variety of guests on the podcast there have been some interesting people with amazing stories.

One of his favourite guests was Brian Waters, who came to Japan as an English teacher, and left to become a criminalist with the L.A. County Coroner’s office. O’Shea also interviewed someone who skateboarded across Japan to raise money to support tsunami victims.

It isn’t always easy to be the single person behind an entire podcast. With tasks like seeking out and setting up interviews, recording, and editing, the job is solely in O’Shea’s hands. He says his work has been well-rewarded by the response.

“So many listeners thank me for making their commutes or workday go by easier and that’s awesome.”

O’Shea is still teaching, but has bigger plans for his show. Podcasting started as just a small hobby, but now he hopes to start his own podcast network one day.