Mystery Donations Arriving in Japanese Children’s Homes


By Samantha Simmons

It’s officially the season to be jolly. As the most globally recognized and celebrated holiday season worldwide, people all over the world are giving, whether its with friends, family or the less fortunate. This year in Japan, Santa has some serious competition.

Recently, mysterious donors have been leaving gifts and school supplies at the doorstep of Awanokuni Jikeiin children’s home in Tokushima City, Japan. Many of the donations have something in common–although they remain anonymous, the donors are leaving notes signed with names of popular anime characters, including “Colonel Muska.” The name of this particular donor is somewhat ironic, considering Colonel Muska was the villain in the film Laputa: Castle in the Sky.

“Colonel Muska” dropped of packages filled with black leather book bags and DVD copies of Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli’s film,  Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind.

His (or perhaps even her) note read, “Think of this as an early Christmas present and accept it … Now, what are you waiting for? Try putting them on.”

Eight of the home’s children will be entering elementary school next spring. This is the second time “Colonel Muska” has donated to the orphanage.

This movement in Japan in known as the Tiger Mask movement. The Tiger Mask movement began during the holidays in 2010 when an anonymous donor left 10  ¥30,000 (about US$360) backpacks at a child guidance center in Gunma Prefecture under the name of “Naoto Date.” The backpacks left were of superior quality and are manufactured to last children through all years of elementary school.

Other donors under the names of the K-ON! character Yui, Doraemon, Mario and Yoshi of the Super Mario Bros. games, Anpanman, Ai no Senshi Rainbowman, Seigi wo Aisuru Mono Gekkō Kamen, Hideto Matsumoto (X Japan’s late guitarist, Hide) have contributed.

These anonymous gifts helped push the number of donations to Japanese children’s centers past 700 in one month. A total of 620 backpacks and  ¥24 million (US$290,000) were contributed between Christmas and mid-January. Last November, another donor by the name of “Ultra Seven” donated one million yen (about US$12,809) to an orphanage in Hokkaido Prefecture.

The movement returned last year with many other “characters,” including Momotarō, Ashita no Joe, Evangelion’s Rei Ayanami and Ryōji Kaji, Haruhi Suzumiya, Crayon Shin-chan, Arsène Lupin, Kamen Rider, the real-life samurai warlord (and Sengoku Basara character) Date Masamune, Kyojin no Hoshi, Stitch, and Tetsujin 28-go.

To learn more about how Christmas is celebrated in Japan, check out this article by NPR’s Eric Weiner. And if you’re feeling inspired by the Tiger Mask movement, don’t forget to check out your local toy drives for less fortunate families in your area this holiday season!

So insiders, how do you celebrate the holiday season? Let us know in the comments!


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