‘Tiger Mask’ repaying welfare facilities

Kyodo News

Child welfare institutions and consultation centers in cities across the country are receiving school bags or cash gifts from someone who claims to be the hero of a popular wrestling comic book and TV series from the 1960s.

It all began at the Chuo Child Consultation Center in Gunma Prefecture on Dec. 25. As one of the employees came to work on Christmas Day, she found 10 boxes containing school bags that were left on the entrance of the facility as she arrived for work.

A note signed by a “Naoto Date” was left with the boxes.

Initially, no one at the facility knew who he was until two days later when it was discussed at an employee meeting. As one of the senior officials, Keiichi Matsuba, 51, reported the gifts, one of the employees, Kuniyuki Takizawa, 36, realized Naoto Date was the name of the character who played the hero in “Tiger Mask.”

Takizawa had seen reruns of Tiger Mask, which aired between 1969 and 1971.

In the popular animation, Naoto Date was an orphan who grew up in a welfare facility and donated money to the facility after becoming a professional wrestler.

“I suspect that someone around his 50s or so, had a similar experience with ‘Tiger Mask’ and sent the gifts to us. We don’t plan to search for him, out of respect for his feelings,” Matsuba said.

After the gifts were reported in December, child welfare facilities in Kanagawa, Nagano, Gifu, Okinawa and Nagasaki prefectures have received school bags or donations from “Naoto Date,” one after another.