If you were still laboring under the idea that man’s best friend was a dog, then prepare for a wake-up call. John Yoshihara Jr. (better known as JJ Yosh), a man described by IMDb as an adventurer, filmmaker, TV and film personality, and eco-visionary, is turning traditional ideas on their head… and he’s not doing it alone. The TikTok star and his 4-year-old Bombay cat Simon have so far accrued almost 4 million followers and over 80.1 million likes as they explore some of the most beautiful places on earth together. And he wants everyone else to start doing the same. Here’s what you need to know.
When JJ was a student studying chemical engineering at UCSB, he co-founded “The Excursion Club,” an outdoor club designed to encourage his fellow students to ditch their screens and get out and about in the great outdoors. Pretty soon, he realized that he wanted to do the same…permanently. He ditched his plans to forge a career in engineering and started looking for ways to turn his love for nature into a full-time, paying job. In 2006, he founded Higher Earth Entertainment, a non-profit production company with a mission to create documentaries that inspire and empower people to embrace an outdoor lifestyle. Since then, JJ has traveled all over the globe, creating engaging media as he does it to share with his followers back home. Along with sharing his videos on social media, JJ has also hosted TV shows for TLC, Discovery, and Tastemade networks. He’s also written, produced, directed, and starred in a feature film, “Ancient Tomorrow,” which can be seen on Google Play, Amazon, and Dish TV. If all that wasn’t enough to keep him busy, he’s also appeared in commercials for DirecTV, Coor, and AT&T, and even dabbled in a bit of modeling on the side.
JJ and Simon Pair Up
If there’s one thing that JJ loves almost as much as the great outdoors, it’s cats. “I always had cats growing up and wanted one once I moved to Colorado,” he told Zenger. As soon as he got the chance, he started looking for a cat to adopt. When he found Simon in 2016, he knew he’d met his perfect match. Since teaming up, the two have become inseparable. “He is the most important family member to me,” he says, adding “I became more passionate about cats once I started taking Simon out and seeing how much he enjoyed the outdoors. I do everything with him. I take him on hikes, but also road trips and other adventures. Most days, though, he is by my side around the house while I’m working.” The pair have become so close, they even share the same food tastes. “He loves shrimp. That’s my favorite food, too. Whenever I’m having it, Simon tries to take some. He also likes tuna and salmon sushi,” JJ says. The duo now regularly heads out for adventures together. Their favorite way of spending the day is exploring the trails around Boulder. Many wilderness areas accept animals, but as some have restrictions, JJ always makes sure to check before they head out for a day. If the weather permits, they sometimes go on longer hikes where they can camp out overnight under the stars.
A Man, a Cat, and 4 Million Followers
Since JJ began taking Simon with him on his wild adventurers, his social media following has skyrocketed. It seems the world can’t get enough of watching the pair sharing car rides and trekking through the wilderness. These days, JJ boasts almost 4 million followers across all his social media accounts, with 225,000 followers on Twitter and 638,000 on Instagram. Since branching out with his own TikTok channel, he’s added another 3 million followers and over 80.1 million likes to his numbers. So cat-mad has everyone gone for the duo, Simon even has his own Instagram profile. Going under the name ‘Simon Yosh the Adventure Cat,’ he treats his 485,000 followers to regular updates on his and Simon’s adventurers around Boulder. According to his profile, his favorite activities are swimming, hiking, rock climbing, and kayaking. He’s also a big fan of camping, frolicking around in the snow, backpacking (although fortunately, he always has JJ on hand to carry the gear), and taking relaxing jacuzzis. Over the past couple of years, JJ has managed to teach Simon a bunch of tricks, and he can now give high fives and kisses on command.
The Secret to Simon’s Success
Speaking to mediakix.com, JJ revealed that he believes the secret to his and Simon’s success lies in how human-like Simon’s personality is. “There are a lot of cats on social media but not many that go hiking, biking, and kayaking! Also, I think our unique relationship adds value as well. People are able to relate to their connection with their feline pets through me and Simon,” he shared. Not that everything’s always perfect, of course. Simon, like most cats, is a bit of an escape artist and has worked out exactly how to slip out of his harness when he’s outside, to the point that JJ has to keep an eye on him at all times. He’s also developed an unfortunate habit of falling asleep in the middle of shooting, which doesn’t always make things easy for JJ.
A Word Of Advice
JJ and Simon already had a big social media following before JJ joined TikTok, but since joining the service last year, they’ve exploded. “I saw TikTok as a growing platform last year and wanted to get involved as it was starting to take off in the US,” JJ explains. “My favorite part is how easy it is to grow — which is fun! Instagram can sometimes be a lot harder to get good engagement.” As to how anyone who wants to emulate his success can go about it, JJ has a few words of advice “You need to post very regularly and have something unique your pet is known for,” he recommends. “Simon is just another black cat but with his yellow harness he’s instantly recognizable as “Simon, BackpackingKitty”. A lot of famous cats and dogs have interesting physical features, or are very beautiful in their own way.”