The Dark Reality of a Japanese Game Show: The Torture of Nasubi for Entertainment
In the late 1990s, a Japanese game show called “Susunu! Daimaou!” held a raffle to select the participant for its upcoming show “A Life of Prizes.” Tomowaki Hamatsu, who later became known as Nasubi (which translates to “eggplant”), emerged as the lucky winner of the draw and was extremely elated. Nasubi was a budding comedian, and he perceived this opportunity as his chance to make it big but he didn’t know of the dark reality of a Japanese game show.
Nasubi was oblivious to the fact that he had signed up for a rigorous challenge that lasted a year. He was to be locked up in a cramped apartment with no clothes, food or access to the outside world. The challenge required him to survive on winnings from magazine sweepstakes alone and win one million yen (worth about $8,000 at the time) to complete the challenge and be freed from the room.
The show producers gave Nasubi water, but they prohibited him from leaving or communicating with the outside world. He only had access to items won from magazine sweepstakes.. This included food, which he had to earn through the same sweepstakes. For Nasubi to succeed, he would have to earn enough money to buy food, clothing, and other necessities through sweepstakes.
Nasubi thought he was on a regular game show.
He didn’t know he was being recorded and live-streamed. He updated the producers on his progress and life in the apartment. Regrettably, Japan broadcast every moment of his challenge without his awareness.
The show was a massive success, averaging 17 million viewers every Sunday night, which was more than the last four years of the NBA Finals and the World Series combined. The producers were aware that they could earn more money, so they transformed it from a weekly broadcast to a full-blown live stream. People could log on online and watch Nasubi suffer in real time.
Nasubi’s ordeal lasted for 15 months.
During this time, he won small prizes like cans of cat food, bicycles, and magazines. He even managed to earn enough money to buy some clothes. However, his ordeal was far from over. He was freed from the apartment, but put into another for the same challenge in South Korea. Nasubi faced similar conditions but had to earn money to return to Japan. This challenge lasted for another seven months.
The show was inhumane and unethical. The show inflicted psychological torture, isolation, and starvation on Nasubi for entertainment. They stripped away his dignity and forced him to dance naked to earn a can of cat food. The show was a reflection of a culture that prioritizes entertainment and profit over human dignity and respect. It is a reminder that we should be mindful of the content we consume and the impact it has on the people who participate in it.
To summarize, Nasubi’s experience serves as a cautionary tale that reminds us of the darker side of entertainment and the potential repercussions that accompany it. It is crucial to consider how our entertainment preferences affect others, and we must prioritize treating others with dignity and respect above everything else.
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Image credits: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DWWK05t98os