On Christma Day, 2010, an anonymous donor left ten 30,000 yen ($360) randoseru backpacks outside a Japanese orphanage in Gunma Prefecture. Attached to the bags was a card signed by Naoto Date, the secret identity of fictional Japanese wrestler Tiger Mask, who, in the popular 1960s manga by the same name, fought for orphans after being raised in an orphanage himself.

The story was picked up by the press and a week later, on January 1, 2011, a similar donation of backpacks was left at an orphanage in Kangawa Prefecture, again with a note signed by Naoto Date. By January 11, over 100 “Tiger Mask” donations, ranging from backpacks to toys, food, and monetary gifts, had been reported at various children’s facilities across the country.

After that, little was heard from Tiger Mask, aside a second donation to the original orphanage in Gunma on Christmas Day, 2011, which failed to inspire a wave of charity as it had the previous year.

Has Tiger Mask forgotten about the children of Japan?

There are certainly people who desire his return: on November 6, 2012, a city in Shizuoka prefecture received an anonymous donation of 100,000 yen ($1,120) to be used toward books for children, along with a note signed by “friends of Naoto Date” that read: “we pray for the return of the Tiger Mask movement.”

In the past month, similar acts of generosity have also been observed by other anonymous donors, including a gift of backpacks from an evil villain and a surprise feast of winter fish by a mysterious “man of the ocean”, but still no signs of the original masked philanthropist—until now.

On December 11, reception staff at the city hall in Iwamizawa City, Hokkaido Prefecture, were visited by a man wearing a tiger mask—the Tiger Mask—who handed them a large envelope and said, “My name is Naoto Date. I want you to give this to the children at the city orphanage as a New Year’s gift.”

Inside the envelope were one hundred 1,000 yen ($12) bills and forty decorated enveloped traditionally used for otoshidama, gifts of money given to children on New Year’s Day.


^Examples of otoshidama envelopes

The money will be given to the children at the Hikarigaoka orphanage in Iwamizawa.

Will this be enough to spark the resurgence of the Tiger Mask movement? We still have a few weeks left before the end of the year, so we’ll have to wait and see…

If you’d like to become a child’s hero yourself this holiday season, you can even purchase a Tiger Mask from Amazon and make a trip to your local city office, or better yet, set up a heroic visit to your local orphanage or children’s hospital and deliver a little inspiration as well.

Source: Yomiuri Online