An old man who lives naked and alone on a tropical Okinawa island, subsisting only off the natural bounty of his monthly care package, has lately been picked up by the international media – although Japanese have been rather less sympathetic, with some denouncing him as a mere hikikomori or homeless, or worse yet, a dirty NEET…
Lately 76-year-old “hermit” Masafumi Nagasaki has been attracting international media attention for spending the last 20 years living naked on the otherwise uninhabited remote Okinawa island of Sotobanari – most of it fairly admiring, such as this piece from the Daily Mail:
It is a world away from a traditional retirement home in the sun. The currents that surround the kidney-shaped island are so dangerous local fisherman rarely cast nets in the area.
There is no natural water and since setting up home there Mr Nagasaki has had to brave powerful typhoons and biting insects.
Such difficulties have not deterred the wiry hermit who no longer wears clothes apart from for his once a week trip to a nearby island to pick up water and rice cakes with a small $120 donation sent from his family.
He said: ‘I don’t do what society tells me, but I do follow the rules of the natural world. You can’t beat nature so you just have to obey it completely.
‘That’s what I learned when I came here, and that’s probably why I get by so well.’
Ironically Mr Nagasaki says he spent years in the limelight working in the entertainment industry before he decided to get far away from civilisation.
His staple food is rice cakes, which he boils in water, eating whenever hunger strikes – sometimes four or five times a day. Water for bathing and shaving comes from rain caught in a system of battered cooking pots.
Each day is conducted according to a strict timetable, starting with stretches in the sun on the beach. The rest is a race against time as he prepares food, washes and cleans his camp before the light fails and insects come out to bite.
It isn’t the healthiest of lifestyles, he concedes – but that isn’t the point.
‘Finding a place to die is an important thing to do, and I’ve decided here is the place for me,’ he said.
‘It hadn’t really occurred to me before how important it is to choose the place of your death, like whether it’s in a hospital or at home with family by your side. But to die here, surrounded by nature – you just can’t beat it, can you?’
A TV spot:
Actual Japanese seem unimpressed, feeling particularly short-changed by the less than self-reliant lifestyle this “hermit” enjoys:
“Come on – he’s smoking!”
“He’s living off ¥10,000 a month from his sister – he’s just playing at self-reliance.”
“It would be a great tale if he did not just live off the monthly handouts.”
“If his sister is old as well, when she kicks the bucket it’s over for him.”
“He’s just another loafer. Whether Akiba or some island, the only difference is where he has set up his lair.”
“Just a super-NEET.”
“At least he’s honest – what a story it would be if he didn’t get all the handouts.”
“Isn’t this trespass? He surely doesn’t own the island.”
“I laughed at the handout and the smokes. Interesting hobby he has there, anyway.”
“Dress him properly and he’d look just like all the old beggars we have in Tokyo.”
“OK, so the reports say he had two kids with a wife 20 years younger than him he married when he was 40, and then upped and left them in his fifties. Isn’t this just a bit scummy?”
“His elder sister must be in her 80s… how long is he going to rely on her?”
“Isn’t he just some dirty homeless guy? Why send TV crews to fawn over him?”
“Kind of a weak uninhabited island lifestyle with the allowance there. Although I am jealous.”
“At least fish for yourself or something.”
“He is a true hikikomori! [literally: somebody who shuts themselves away from society] He’s your greatest senpai alright!”