We interviewed Yoshimi Tokui, one of the most famous Japanese comedians and variety show hosts. He comes from the Kansai region, which is famous for the manzai comedy, a traditional Japanese stand-up featuring 2 performers, trading jokes at great speed. This type of comedy traces its origins back to the Heian period, and appropriately to this time of the year, it was originally based on a festival to welcome the New Year.
Mr. Tokui belongs to the manzai comedy duo "Tutorial", and has been trading jokes with his partner Mitsunori Fukuda (who is off-stage known also as a motorcycle racer) since 1998. The 2 riders won the first prize in the biggest Japanese comedy competition, the "M-1 Grand Prix". Yoshimi Tokui works as a solo artist as well. He was recognized as "The Best Appearance Comedian" for 3 years in a row. He was a commentator of the popular Netflix show (that aired overseas as well) Terrace House and was also appointed as the "Head of Lovers Laboratory" of Okamoto Industries, the biggest condom maker in Japan. When he's not throwing jokes or promoting safe sex, he listens to the sound of his motorcycle muffler.
Samurai: Yoshimi Tokui
Horse: Ducati 899 Panigale ・ Husqvarna NUDA900R・ Harley Davidson XL1200 ・ Kawasaki 250TR ・ Honda CB400F
Motto：umaku ikanakereba jibunga warui umakuittara mawarino okage
(which would translate to something like "If it doesn't work, you have no one but yourself to blame; If it works, thank the circumstances...")
Mr. Tokui, being a famous performer in Japan, your interests and hobbies are always on display. And one private passion you are never trying to hide is your obsession with motorcycles. You've been spotted riding unique bikes including Husqvarna NUDA900R, the "Kick-Ass Hit Girl" bike Ducati 899 Panigale, and we also know you purchased a Harley Davidson XL. That's quite a wide range in terms of both performance and style, therefore you're leaving us puzzled: What motivated those purchases? What's your bike selection criteria?
When I was younger, like many youngsters in Japan, I rode a Honda Cub or Mission. I naturally wanted to ride a big motorcycle, but you know what it's like when you're young and wishful; you usually don't have the money the make your dreams a reality. Unfortunately, when you earn enough to buy a bike, you no longer have time to ride it...
Kazuto Yakuwa, Yoshimi Tokui, Una Softic
I rode a Cub and Mission back in Kansai and stopped for a while. After moving to Tokyo, I finally managed to save some money - and I also acted in the Bakugyaku Familia movie, an action film which is an adaptation of a popular manga. My character rode a typical Japanese "bosozoku" street gang bike and I taught to
myself that I really should get a proper bike already. While I was
seriously considering a motorcycle, I saw Matrix and as Keanu Reeves rode a Ducati, I wanted to be just like him (laugh). So let's say that my work got me into riding, but Keanu Reeves influenced the final decision. Even though I don't really like flamboyant Harleys, I really like the subtle design of XL 1200, that's why I bought it. However, Keanu's Ducati didn't get out of my head, that's why I bought a 848 at first, and when the 899 came out later, I heard it's much easier for riding and I got that one. I always liked off-road bikes, and when the new Husqvarna came out, I loved its shape and bought it immediately.
Definitely a compulsive bike shopper. What kind of bike are you holding now?
Now I have Kawasaki 250TR, and I also got a Honda CB400FOUR.
Is there another bike on your wish-list at the moment?
I could definitely settle for Yamaha 's XSR 750 R. When I saw it in a magazine, I taught it was cool.
In addition to having a cool bike, what do you enjoy most while riding?
I'm a very auditory person, therefore I enjoy listening to the bike, the sound of the muffler. It sounds sweet and I like that. And because I often don't have much time to ride, I'd just take my bike to a roadside service/parking area, drink coffee and look at my motorcycle.
A picture of Tokui Yoshimi on his Husqvarna Nuda 900 from his personal archive.
How often do you get to ride then?
I try to do it weekly. But sometimes I go to work by motorcycle, so that makes it a few times per week I guess. For that, NUDA serves the purpose well.
How about when you go touring? Where's the best spot you have visited?
Wakayama Prefecture. I had a TV project, filming at a very popular
bakery in the mountain around Wakayama. It was mid-February, and I decided to go there by motorcycle. Since I had to be there early in the morning, I arrived thinking there's no colder place in the world (laugh).
Now, the strongest memory of it is making it through the night,
gripping the bike with my frozen body.
That's hilarious, hope the bread was really fantastic!
Haha it had to be! That was a memorable tour, but in terms of a spot, my favorite place is the beach-side cafe restaurant called Saddleback. It's located in the Odawara Mountain, and you can get there taking the West Sea Bypass from Odawara Shonan. It's my favorite.
We have to go there. Do you have any spot in on your to-ride list?
Hokkaido! Never rode there, and honestly, I really hope to do a full tour all over Japan one day!
Kazuto Yakuwa, Yoshimi Tokui
How about overseas? Did you ever ride abroad? Would you like to go somewhere?
Last year in Hawaii, while I was there with 6 other entertainers and talents
Note: Mr. Tokui was one of the commentators of the popular Netflix "Reality" Show Terrace House in Hawaii last year.
How about riding gear? Do you buy internationally or locally? Do you have a favorite motorcycle gear brand?
Yeah, we're huge fans, as you can tell from Kazuto's Dainese cap today!
So on? Any specific local brands?
Yes. Overtech for example. It had great design and high functionality. Their items are made of high-performance chemical fibers, therefore I can gladly recommend it.
Just before we let you go to your next TV shooting, share another piece of information with us: What's your riding goal? Do you have any special aspirations?
Now, as we're doing the RG Touring Club project with fellow entertainers, I think it would be really cool to organize a motorcycling festival around it as well. It seems like there's a lot done in Europe in that sense, isn't it?
Yes, there are quite many festivals and biker events happening in
Europe, but they really vary in their outlines and motifs. I don't
necessarily like them in Europe, but I'd be happy to attend one in
Japan. I think it would be more fun here, but let's see when you
I'll have to see European happening on my own, that's a goal as well. After my tour around Japan, I'd like to do a tour around Europe as well.
Many thanks for your time today Mr Tokui. Just before we go separate ways, do you have a message for worldwide riders?
Please consider Japanese motorcycle manufacturers! 😁
Kazuto Yakuwa, Yoshimi Tokui, Una Softic
Photos by our rider friend Michael Holmes.