Can Chibatman Restore Smiles for Tokyoities?

Most residents in the Tokyo area, the part of Kanto plain with 30m dwellers, have been waiting for heroes and being hooked on love romance around the clock. Enchanted by formidable power and eternal love, Tokyoities praise any hero as happily as ever. But recently more often than the past, the happiness with smiles has been disrupted whenever the blow strikes the nation.

For more than a decade, the wounds still remain to be healed. In March 11, 2011, the largest earthquake hit the north-eastern region of Japan. The strike kept young You Tube viewers stunned with insurmountable videos of tsunami, which wiped out the coastal residence of Tohoku. The death toll reached 15,900 victims.

Since then 1.3 m hero seeker in Tokyo metropolitan area lost their smiles, including my neighbors whose family member escaped from the earthquake in mud. The shock was far-reaching, especially when the tsunami hit the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant with radioactive contamination. It will take 30 years to clean the area.

A few years after the disaster, one man from its 6.5 m residents stood up in Chiba, part of four prefectural districts to draw the plain land on the map, was determined to bring back smiles with happy moment in Tokyo. He was a rider in the costume of Batman, hero of Hollywood movie in America. They called him Chibatman, a guy from Chiba to ride an import trike in the Batman outfit.

Viewers wondered why he started out such an act like that on the public road in Tokyo. He answered in the media interview that the smile on the face of habitants in Tokyo has gone since the disaster. He wanted to bring it back. Can a rider in three-wheeler save spiritual Tokyoites and bring back happiness with smiles? My answer is somewhat “No”. It won’t have lasting effect. The story comes with compounding cases.

First, it certainly takes personal financial sacrifice to disguise like Batman in outfit and to purchase a trike from outside Japan. When the original motion picture of Chibatman was posted in the facebook account of a comedian, the news spread out immediately to illustrate the real image. It might have been local traffic violation.

In response to local uneasy opinions, the local police called him to report to the central station in Chiba City. They walked him through the interrogation room. But they had a brief chat. The act was not illegal. But taxpayers were somewhat resentful with the fact that the police officers spent unnecessary office-hours with a local would-be hero on the public road. Who pays for the maintenance of the local road for safety traffic and policemen’s salary to patrol to misbehavior? The annual maintenance fees are more or less $400 per vehicle for car owners like me.

Second, car drivers could see a man on the trike on their way but the scene was somewhat distracting, which causes traffic accidents. Kids loved to see a human in costume through the doors. It could be a social disturbance. What about the implication in the aspect of the education for kids? The household expense for public school stays low at $230 a month for twenty years but that for private one exploded three-holds to reach $680 for the same period.

Thirdly, probably the most controversial argument, it may not achieve the goal of restoring smiles on the faces of residents. It could be a laugh, or temporarily smile but not a smile for a long time. Given the advocacy of the original idea to save habitants spiritually, the act left something to be desired. So there is something wrong in the original idea and a way to express his intention.

Crazy? Not so much. His act was not against the law. Law enforcement was not in effect fully to this day.

Hero has been in short supply for years, especially local heroes with cool mind and warm heart. Tokyoites starved to see such a hero in Tokyo. Perhaps, readers of this blog want to look for the other aspect of Tohoku-Fukushima disaster and thereafter. With genuine support from the area in turmoil, three heroes could have risen in the eyes of Tokyoites and some Americans.

Shohei Ohtani, a baseball player of the Los Angeles Angels, Yusuru Hanyu, two-time gold medalist in winter Olympics, and Hideki Matuyama, a Masters Champion in April 2021 in Augusta, Ga. All of them had roots in the Tohoku area.



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