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Tomoaki Hamatsu (浜津 智明 Hamatsu Tomoaki?, born August 3, 1975), better known as Nasubi (なすび?, "Eggplant"), is a Japanese comedian who 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 "show business related job." He was challenged to enter mail-in sweepstakes until he won ¥1 million (about US$10,000) in total. He 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 his target, he set the Guinness world record for the "longest time survived on competition winnings."
Nasubi lived in front of the camera, with only the possessions he won via the sweepstakes, and the stacks of postcards for entering the sweepstakes. Due to his nudity, an eggplant cartoon graphic covered his genitals when Nasubi was standing on camera. Nasubi is a Japanese word for "eggplant"—the nickname was chosen due to his 30 cm long face shaped like a Japanese eggplant. Nasubi thought he was being recorded and the show would be re-broadcast later. But in actuality he was on livestream video with the highlights re-broadcast each week complete with cartoon sound effects making fun of everything he did, especially his sadness and frustration. At first he received no food at all, drinking only water and losing weight. Eventually he won some sugary drinks from his sweepstakes entries, then a bag of rice, and eventually survived for weeks on dog food he won. He never won clothing he could wear. He carried on conversations with a stuffed animal he adopted as his sensei.
Upon reaching his goal, he was clothed and blindfolded and taken to a surprise location. Nasubi happily went along believing he was going to get a special prize for his year of hard work. After they unblindfolded him, he found himself in South Korea where he was shown around town and taken to another apartment. He was once again asked to take off his clothes and challenged to enter sweepstakes, this time to win enough money to get back home. When he had won enough to return to Japan he was blindfolded, clothed and taken to another apartment in Japan. When he was unblindfolded, he looked around, sighed, and took all of his clothes off. At which point the walls of the apartment fell away to reveal that he was in a TV studio with a huge live audience. He couldn't understand it because he thought the show had not yet been broadcast.
The entire ordeal lasted some 15 months, during which time his diaries on his experience of being locked away from the outside world became a best seller in Japan, and the TV show broke all records with 17 million viewers each Sunday night.
He reported being hot and sweaty wearing clothing after his ordeal, and for the first six months had difficulty carrying on conversations.
Ironically, after the rigors he went through in order to become a famous comedian, Nasubi was unable to succeed in the TV variety world. Instead, he 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 starred in Densha Otoko, Trick, Atashinchi no Danshi, and recently portrayed the character Watcherman in Kamen Rider W.
Nasubi reports that he is grateful for his experience and that the producer apologized to him. The producer, Toshio Tsuchiya, says he has no regrets and did not apologize, that his goal is to produce miracles on film, and with Nasubi, that is what happened.
- Za Gaman, another popular Japanese game show that also focused on the suffering of contestants.
- syberpunk.com Nasubi An article with all the details on Nasubi's experience. (content no longer available)
- Article about the show and Japanese culture
- Nasubi (archived), Quirky Japan Homepage.
- "Human Spectacle". This American Life. Episode 529. 27 June 2014. Public Radio Exchange. WBEZ. Retrieved 28 June 2014. An interview with Nasubi, and the story of his experiences on Susunu! Denpa Shōnen.