This Country Loves Bob Ross Even More Than America Does

Is there anyone who doesn't love Bob Ross's soothing voice and happy little trees? Is there anyone who doesn't simultaneously envy how easily he can tap, tap his way from titanium white to a perfect masterpiece of landscaped artistry in a mere 30 minutes or less? Even if you didn't grow up marveling at Ross's talent, kindness, and perfect 'fro, it's likely you've at least caught a glimpse of his Joy of Painting program, perhaps on YouTube, which contains all 403 episodes that aired from 1983-1994. And now, over 25 years after his show finished and Bob sadly passed away from cancer, he's bigger than ever. Aside from his 4.4 million YouTube subscribers and 5.6 million Twitch subscribers, Huffington Post reports that his style of painting is now being taught by 3,594 Certified Ross Instructors across 39 countries.

We can assume correctly that Ross was big in his home country, the United States, where he might even give Fred Rogers a run for his money in a "most tranquil and enlightened human" contest. But how about the rest of the world? Was there any other country that took to Bob Ross in the way that Germany took to David Hasselhoff, or that the US has taken to the Canadian Ryans — Reynolds and Gosling? Indeed there is. As Do You Remember tells us, Bob Ross was enormous in Japan in a way typically reserved for megastars like Tom Cruise or Madonna.   

A superstar whose work inspires Japanese artists to the present day

When Ross was alive, his Joy of Painting program aired in Korea, Mexico, Turkey, England, the Philippines, and yes, Japan. In fact, as the Orlando Sentinel reports, it aired twice a day on the Japanese Broadcasting Network (NHK), twice as often as it did in the US. Ross says that when he visited Japan he was so mobbed by fans at the airport that security had to escort him away. "It was unreal," he said. Ross's shows were fully translated and overdubbed in Japanese, as this YouTube video shows, so Japanese fans could still hear his calming tones underneath their native language. Ross is just as nostalgic for many Japanese people as he is for Americans. 

At present, Bob Ross is still alive and well in Japan. Artist Kenichi Yoneda, known as Kynd, has taken to writing a computer program that generates Bob Ross-like watercolors. Kynd says he was fascinated with the way Ross would finish every painting in about 30 minutes, like code, and set out to replicate the process using actual code, as The Verge states. A bit more traditional is the "Bob Ross of Japan," Harumichi Shibasaki, whose YouTube channel shows him mirroring Ross's gentle demeanor and knack for landscapes, which naturally has drawn strong comparisons to Ross.

Thanks in part to Bob Ross's legacy in Japan, it seems his happy little trees will be staying around for quite some time to come.