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Nasubi

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Tomoaki Hamatsu
Tomoaki Hamatsu in 2014
Born (1975-08-03) August 3, 1975 (age 48)
NationalityJapanese
Other namesNasubi
OccupationComedian
Years active1998 – present
AgentOffice K
Known forReality television

Tomoaki Hamatsu (浜津 智明, Hamatsu Tomoaki, born August 3, 1975), better known as Nasubi (なすび, "Eggplant"), is a Japanese comedian.[1] Hamatsu is best known for appearing on the controversial reality television show Susunu! Denpa Shōnen.

Denpa Shōnen teki Kenshō Seikatsu[edit]

Hamatsu was challenged to stay alone, unclothed, in an apartment for Susunu! Denpa Shōnen (January 1998 – March 2002), a Japanese reality-television show on Nippon Television, after winning a lottery for a "showbusiness-related job". Hamatsu was challenged to enter mail-in sweepstakes until he won ¥1 million (about $8,000) in total. Hamatsu started with nothing (including no clothes), was cut off from outside communication and broadcasting, and had nothing to keep him company except the magazines he combed through for sweepstakes entry forms. After spending 335 days to reach Hamatsu's target, he set the Guinness world record for the "longest time survived on competition winnings".[2]

Hamatsu lived in front of the camera, with only the possessions he won via the sweepstakes (save for basic utilities such as running water, heating and electricity), and the stacks of postcards and magazines required for entering the sweepstakes. Nasubi is the Japanese word for "eggplant"; the nickname was chosen due to his 30 cm long face that was said to be shaped like a Japanese eggplant, as well as the producers having to cover his genitals with an animated eggplant for the television audience when Hamatsu was standing on camera due to his nudity. Hamatsu believed that he was being recorded and the show would be re-broadcast later once the footage had been gathered. In reality, the experiment was being live-streamed, with footage compiled and re-aired each week, complete with sound effects present at frequent intervals, using new tech to have 24/7 television to show him live using a joystick to cover up his genitals.[citation needed]

At first, Hamatsu was surviving on a few crackers each day given to him by production staff so that he would not starve to death. Eventually, Hamatsu won some sugary drinks from his sweepstakes entries, and the crackers were no longer given to him. Later on, Hamatsu won a bag of rice, but having not won any pots or containers with which to heat it, he was forced to eat it raw, but after fashioning a makeshift heating container with a discarded bag, he was able to cook the rice by placing it next to the lit stove; however, canned and kibble dog food became Hamatsu's primary food source for some time after running out of rice. After winning a stuffed toy in a sweepstake, he carried on conversations with it as his sensei, as it was his only sort of interaction. Hamatsu never won clothing he could wear (only ladies' underwear that was too small for him to use), nor did he ever win anything to trim his growing facial hair and fingernails. Hamatsu also won other prizes he was unable to use, like movie tickets and a bicycle. However, he soon adapted the latter into a stationary bike. When Hamatsu won a television set, he was unable to use it at first, as there was no cable or antenna hookup in the apartment (intentional by the producers out of fear he would discover he was already on TV). Hamatsu would then win a PlayStation game, a copy of the train simulator title Densha de Go!, alongside the controller needed to play it.[citation needed]

By this time, the show had become so popular within Japanese households, that people were starting to decipher the location of Hamatsu's flat, with paparazzi, fans, and even the press standing outside without Hamatsu knowing it. As such, producers were forced to procure a new space far away from the original location. Hamatsu was transported blindfolded, and upon uncovering his eyes, he discovered a similar living space, along with all his previously won possessions. When Hamatsu questioned if he had completed the challenge, he was instead told the change of space was for his new address for "renewed luck". As such, Hamatsu continued writing sweepstake entries, with a large chair and desk becoming his first items acquired in his new place he was kept. However, Hamatsu was moved into yet another space after a long streak of misfortune in his entries. In this new space, Hamatsu's TV set became useful when he later won a VCR, which could be used with two previous tapes he had won, and would later win a PlayStation.[3] Hamatsu would end up playing his game for multiple days straight, ultimately forcing himself to stop in order to keep entering sweepstakes, collecting donations & achieve his objectives.[citation needed]

After winning a set of 4 car tires worth around 84000¥, Hamatsu closed upon his goal, which he finally achieved with a bag of rice, 335 days after starting. After being informed of his victory, Hamatsu was given back his clothes, blindfolded and taken to a surprise location. Hamatsu happily went along believing he was going to get a special prize for his year of hard work. After they removed Hamatsu's blindfold, he found himself in South Korea. Hamatsu was given a day at Seoul Land amusement park, where he was able to enjoy Korean barbecue (his favorite food) and ride on the park's multiple attractions. However, after finishing, Hamatsu was taken to another apartment. Hamatsu was once again asked to take off his clothes and challenged to enter sweepstakes. Although the producers said that if he did not want to do it, he did not have to, he still agreed. This time, the goal was to win enough money to afford a flight on Japan Airlines to return home. However, when Hamatsu quickly met this goal after several weeks of entering competitions, it was revised multiple times, first to afford a ticket in business class, then first class; these goals were also met in a matter of weeks. When Hamatsu had won enough to return to Japan he was blindfolded, clothed and taken to another apartment in Japan. When the blindfold was removed, he looked around, and instinctively took his clothes off, expecting to continue the challenge. However, the walls of the apartment fell away to reveal that he was actually in a TV studio with a huge live audience, who began applauding him for succeeding at the challenge. Hamatsu was confused by this, because he thought the show had not yet been broadcast.[4]

The entire ordeal lasted about 15 months (January 1998–April 1999), during which time Hamatsu's diaries on his experience of being isolated from the outside world became a bestseller in Japan. The television show broke numerous viewing records during its run, with 17 million viewers tuning in each Sunday night.[5]

Hamatsu reported being hot and sweaty wearing clothing for the first six months after his ordeal and had difficulty carrying on conversations for a long time.[6]

In April 2020, Hamatsu tried persuading people to cooperate with the self-disciplined stay-at-home order during the wake of the initial COVID-19 outbreaks by citing his own personal experience with self-isolation.[7]

Hamatsu was the subject of the 2023 documentary The Contestant.[8]

Other activities[edit]

After the rigors Hamatsu went through in order to become a famous comedian, Hamatsu was unable to succeed in the variety TV world. Instead, Hamatsu became a local talent in his native Fukushima, as well as a dramatic stage actor, founding the stage troupe Eggplant Way, performing across Japan. He has appeared in Densha Otoko, Trick and Atashinchi no Danshi, and portrayed the character Watcherman in Kamen Rider W. Hamatsu also appeared in the game 428: Shibuya Scramble.[citation needed]

In 2016, Hamatsu successfully scaled Mount Everest after three aborted attempts in 2013, 2014 and 2015.[9]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Interview via Online: Fukushima's Famous Actor and Entertainer, Nasubi Active in Various Fields". Style Koriyama. 10 June 2020. Retrieved 3 August 2022.
  2. ^ Guinness Editorial Staff (2000). Guinness World Records 2001. Guinness Media, Inc. ISBN 9781892051011.
  3. ^ Edwards, Nathaniel (7 January 2014). "Nasubi, The Naked Eggplant-Man Who Lived Off Sweepstakes". Tofugu. Retrieved 3 August 2022.
  4. ^ Day, Pascale (31 August 2016). "Unwrapping the 'Truman Show Delusion,' Where You Believe You're Being Watched by the World". Vice. Vice Media. Retrieved 3 August 2022.
  5. ^ McPherson, Jed (1 February 2020). "The Show Behind The Show". Bleeding Cool. Retrieved 3 August 2022.
  6. ^ Blake, Meredith (May 2, 2024). "'The Contestant' tells the bizarre story of a Japanese man who lived a real-life 'Truman Show'". LA Times.
  7. ^ Kamba, Ryosuke (25 April 2020). "1年3ヶ月の「監禁」生活を乗り越えた男が語る、コロナ自粛疲れに打ち勝つ極意" (in Japanese). BuzzFeed. Retrieved 3 August 2022.
  8. ^ Pond, Steve (8 September 2023). "'The Contestant' Review: 1998 Japanese Reality Show Makes for Absurd Entertainment". The Wrap.
  9. ^ "Comedian Nasubi climbs Mount Everest". The Japan Times. 19 May 2016. Retrieved 3 August 2022.

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