The other day I relaxing at home with the TV on. Suddenly, my wife said to me “It’s him!” I looked up and there on the screen was Cornman (Toumorokoshi Ojisan), in all his sharply-dressed corn-toting glory, giving an interview on Out x Deluxe.
It’s been a while since we last saw him dragging a daikon around in March, and still we had been unable to get a clear shot of his face. Yet now here he was talking openly about himself and the ear of corn he calls Tomoko.
After doing a little research online, sure enough, Cornman was doing the rounds and telling all about his mysterious love of tying a leash on vegetables and taking them around the Kanto area. In particular, thanks to a very illuminating interview with Entabe we can learn all we need to know about Cornman – or should we say Mr. Masahiko Naganuma.
■ The Origins
Naganuma said that he was inspired by a foreigner he once saw in his hometown of Tokorozawa in 2006 pulling a Chinese cabbage on a leash. Seeing that made a big impact on Naganuma, who decided to dress up like Chinese Cabbage Man and return to the same place in hopes of meeting him. However, when he returned to the spot, the man was nowhere to be seen. Nevertheless, Naganuma kept up the hobby and Cornman was born. His now famous stylish black ensemble was chosen by him as “it doesn’t show dirt, and looks musicianny.”
▼ Cornman (left), Chinese Cabbage Man (right) at Comiket 70
■ The Vegetables
As we saw in March and contrary to his name, Cornman doesn’t exclusively take ears of corn out for a walk. He likes to branch out into other greens as well including broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, leeks, and more. He says that dragging broccoli along has the strangest feeling to it.
He names each vegetable usually by just corrupting the standard Japanese name for it. For example, cauliflower would be “Cauli”, and corn (toumorokoshi) would be “Tomomi.” Other times he names them after Dragon Ball characters such a “Kakarrot” for his carrot.
When he’s finished his walks, Naganuma says he always eats the vegetable and that it has an added deliciousness brought out from the bond that developed between it and him from their travels.
■ The Life
Naganuma said that he gets stopped by police a maximum of four times in one day, but that doesn’t dissuade him from doing what he loves. He also says that through such strange behavior he tends to attract other strange people to him. This too is okay for the chairman of Tokorozawa Ai S, a community group aimed at revitalizing the area that Cornman lives in. By having local people getting out into the streets and doing creative things, Naganuma hopes to create a greater sense of community among the residents.
One example of Tokorazawa Ai S in action was the production of local artist, Darek Jackson’s latest CD Slipperman (named after Naganuma and the sandal he uses to sometimes carry vegetables). Cornman doesn’t perfrom on the album, but Jackson who played bass for War and Ray Parker Jr. mentions him under “Special Thanks.”
So there you have it! Next time you see a guy dragging around a vegetable on a leash don’t worry, it’s probably just Masahiko Naganuma spreading some cheer. Feel free to say hello too. It’s just that kind of human interaction and warm spirit that he’s trying to stir up with his leafy antics in urban Japan.
▼ Cornman on TV