Nippon Television’s (NTV) producers have obviously never heard of the Geneva Convention. If they had, they wouldn’t have treated poor Nasubi the way they did. They wouldn’t have stripped him naked and shut him in an apartment, alone with no food, furniture, household goods, or entertainment. They wouldn’t have kept him there for over a year until he had won $10 000 in prizes by sending in postcards to contests. They wouldn’t have cut him off from the world and they would have told him that he was on nation-wide TV.
It all started one snowy day in January, 1998 with an audition. The audition consisted of choosing lots because the only talent needed for this challenge was luck. A group of aspiring comedians showed up, and among them was a young man whose stage name is Nasubi, which means eggplant. Nasubi was ‘lucky’ that day, and was chosen over other aspiring young comedians for a mysterious “show-business related job”. He was immediately blindfolded and driven to a tiny one room apartment somewhere in Tokyo.
When he arrived at the apartment, he was shown a stand full of magazines, a huge pile of postcards, and told to strip naked. The room was empty except for a cushion, a table, a small radio, a telephone, some notebooks, and a few pens. There was not a crumb of food, a square of toilet paper, or any form of entertainment. Whatever he needed, he was to win by sending thousands of postcards into contests. The producers left and Nasubi was on his own in his unique survival challenge. Imagine what was going through his mind: How am I going to eat? Why are they doing this to me? How long will it take to get out of here? He must have thought he was in a bad episode of The Prisoner.
Nasubi won his first contest on February 8th. He got some jelly, a 1560 yen value, leaving him with 998 440 yen left to win. That day, he ate food for the first time in two weeks! On February 22nd, he won a 5 kg bag of rice. Unfortunately, he had no cooking utensils. At first he tried eating it raw, but eventually devised a cooking method where he put it in an empty can beside a burner for an hour until it was “cooked”. He ate about a half cup of rice a day using two pens for chopsticks.
And an interview with Nasubi.