Despite one of the top stories this past week being about how terrible Americans are at getting along, a picture posted on the Internet messaging board reddit has brought a little credibility back to the United States. Normally a hand-scrawled note to a server about paying the bill would barely make local gossip. However, this man’s offer of charity to two crying women who just received bad news made its way to Japan, moving some to tears and some to wonder if privacy concerns would prevent this from happening in their country.
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?
Just a few weeks after the heartwarming story of an evil villain donating backpacks to a Japanese orphanage, comes another tale of anonymous Japanese winter philanthropy, this time from Toyama prefecture.
At around 2:30 pm on December 8, a female staff member at an orphanage in Takaoka city noticed a man pulling up in a white vehicle and placing three large boxes, two styrofoam and one cardboard, at the base of a telephone pole near the entrance. The man, who seemed to be in his 30s, beckoned the staff member over with his hand and, without saying anything, left the boxes and drove off.
In the cardboard box were five daikon, or Japanese radishes. In the styrofoam boxes were two large, plump yellowtail, accompanied by a letter that read: “The men of the ocean have braved billowing waves, putting their lives on the line for these kan-buri (winter yellowtail).” The letter was signed: “Yours truly A Man Who Loves the Ocean”.
At first, vegetables and fish may seem like a rather strange combination to leave outside an orphanage, but the man had actually gifted the children with a luxurious winter feast: winter yellowtail are a major seasonal delicacy that normally sell for anywhere between 30-40,000 yen ($350-$480) a fish.
Playstation 2 and Wii owners will likely be familiar with Ōkami, the adventure game set in ancient Japan that features an absolutely gorgeous wood-cut, cell-shaded graphic design.
The game puts players in control of the wolf incarnation of Shintō goddess Amaterasu, and quests them with using a magical, life-giving paintbrush to transform a dark, cursed world into one of plants, trees and flowers, as well as battling a few demons and evil spirits along the way.
On the same theme of restoration, a local website based in Rikuzentakata, a coastal town in Iwate prefecture severely damaged by the March 11 tsunami, has launched a special range of products officially backed by Capcom, the makers of Ōkami, with profits from their sale going to towards rebuilding the town and, much like the game, “restoring nature to its once beautiful state.”
Here’s a news story that managed to warm even our cynical, Internet-jaded hearts to the core.
A man going by the name of Colonel Muska, the nefarious villain from Studio Ghibli’s Castle in the Sky, has made a surprise donation to an orphanage in Tokushima city on the island of Shikoku, Japan.
The mysterious stranger left a pile of expensive leather school backpacks as well as a copy of the Ghibli feature film on DVD outside the orphanage, along with a letter simply saying “Please think of this as an early Christmas present. Yours, Colonel Muska”
Starbucks Japan has teamed up with Spanish luxury leather designer Loewe to produce a range of sexy leather sleeves for its paper coffee cups, it was announced yesterday.
The limited-edition sleeves are part of a programme designed to provide financial support to those affected by the earthquake and tsunami that stuck north-eastern Japan in March last year.
In September, anti-Japan protests erupted in major cities in China in response to a dispute over territorial rights to the Senkaku islands (known as Diaoyu in China). Mobs angry protesters took to the streets and sought to destroy all Japanese products. Rioting protesters in Shenzen, China caused US $15,724 worth of property damage to a Japanese restaurant owned and operated by a Chinese man. Anti-Japan protesters also targeted Japanese-made cars, bashing and overturning Nissans and even senselessly beating a man for driving a Toyota during the protests.
China has seen its share of brutal attacks and acts of vandalism in the name of “patriotism.” However, one Chinese entrepreneur has found a peaceful way to express his patriotism by giving away over 5 million yuan (US $797,855) in domestically produced cars to the victims of the anti-Japan protests, complete with a gaudy, lime green presentation ceremony.
Take a quick look around your home. See anything gathering dust? Any old books sitting on the shelf unloved? That AKB48 CD you bought last year but are too embarrassed to listen to? How about those Playstation2 games that you never got around to playing before your console died?
Well now’s your chance to have a good old clear-out. Grab a cardboard box and turn that stuff into an education for a less fortunate child.
Japanese recycling giant Book Off is working in conjunction with Shanti Volunteer Association (SVA) to provide books and learning materials for children who have found themselves homeless as a result of war or natural disasters. As well as donating the in-store buy-back value of any books, CDs, DVDs and videogames donated by regular folk like you and me, Book Off is pledging an extra 10% of that value to the charity.
In short, some less fortunate kids get an education; you make some space in your home and get to feel warm and fuzzy. Read More
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