|Years active||1998 - Present|
|Known for||Reality television|
Denpa Shōnen teki Kenshō Seikatsu
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Tomoaki 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 "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".
Tomoaki 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. Due to his nudity, an eggplant cartoon graphic covered his genitals when Tomoaki Hamatsu 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, aswell as the producers had to cover his private parts with an animated eggplant for the television audience. Tomoaki 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 livestreamed, 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.
At first, he received no food at all, drinking only water and losing weight. Eventually, he won some sugary drinks from his sweepstakes entries. Later on, he 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, and after divising 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 his 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. He 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. He also won other prizes he was unable to use, like movie tickets and a bicycle (both of which would have required him to exit the apartment to utilize) although he soon adapted the latter into a stationary bike. When he 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). He would then win a PlayStation game, train simulator Densha de Go!, alongside the controller needed to play it.
By this time, the show had become so popular within Japanese households, that people were starting to decipher the location of his flat, with paparazzi, fans, and even the press standing outside without Tomoaki Hamatsu knowing it. As such, producers were forced to procure a new space far away from the original location. He was transported blindfolded, and upon uncovering his eyes, he discovered a similar living space, along with all his previously won possesions. When he questioned if he had completed the challenge, he was instead told the change of space was for his new address to "bring in more luck". As such, he continued writing sweepstake entries, with a large chair and desk becoming his first items acquired in his new space. However, he was moved into yet another space after a long streak of misfortune in his entries. In this new space, his 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 proper PlayStation. He would end up playing his game for multiple days straight, ultimately forcing himself to stop in order to keep entering sweepstakes and achieve his goal.
After winning a set of 4 car tires worth around 84000¥, he closed upon his goal, which he finally achieved with a bag of rice, 335 days after starting. After being informed of his victory, he was given back his clothes and blindfolded and taken to a surprise location. Tomoaki Hamatsu happily went along believing he was going to get a special prize for his year of hard work. After they removed his blindfold, he found himself in South Korea. He was given a day at an amusement park, where he was able to enjoy estranged food, and ride on the park's multiple attractions. However, after finishing, he was 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 afford a flight with Japan Airlines to return home. However, When Tomoaki 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 he 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 in a TV studio with a huge live audience. Tomoaki Hamatsu was confused by this, because he thought the show had not yet been broadcast.
The entire ordeal lasted about 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.
In April 2020, Tomoaki 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.
After the rigors he went through in order to become a famous comedian, Tomoaki Hamatsu was unable to succeed in the variety TV 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 portrayed the character Watcherman in Kamen Rider W. He also appeared in the game 428: Shibuya Scramble.
Tomoaki Hamatsu 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 confirms that he did apologize, and states that his goal is to produce miracles on film, and with Tomoaki Hamatsu, that is what happened.
- Za Gaman, another popular Japanese game show that also focused on the suffering of contestants
- "Interview via Online: Fukushima's Famous Actor and Entertainer, Nasubi Active in Various Fields". Style Koriyama. 10 June 2020. Retrieved 3 August 2022.
- Guinness Editorial Staff (2000). Guinness World Records 2001. Guinness Media, Inc. ISBN 9781892051011.
- Edwards, Nathaniel (7 January 2014). "Nasubi, The Naked Eggplant-Man Who Lived Off Sweepstakes". Tofugu. Retrieved 3 August 2022.
- 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.
- McPherson, Jed (1 February 2020). "The Show Behind The Show". Bleeding Cool. Retrieved 3 August 2022.
- 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.
- "Comedian Nasubi climbs Mount Everest". The Japan Times. 19 May 2016. Retrieved 3 August 2022.
- Official website
- Nasubi at IMDb
- Nasubi on Twitter
- Article about the show and Japanese culture
- Tomoaki Hamatsu (archived), Quirky Japan Homepage.
- "Human Spectacle". This American Life. Episode 529. Chicago. 27 June 2014. Public Radio Exchange. WBEZ. Retrieved 28 June 2014. An interview with Tomoaki Hamatsu, and the story of his experiences on Susunu! Denpa Shōnen.