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How a man who signed up to be a reality star spent a year locked in a room naked-Pierra Willix-Entertainment – Metro

The story of Tomoaki Hamatsu is stranger than fiction.

How a man who signed up to be a reality star spent a year locked in a room naked-Pierra Willix-Entertainment – Metro

Tomoaki Hamatsu spent a year locked in a room for a reality series (Picture: Disney)

Over the years viewers have become accustomed to tuning into reality shows that push boundaries.

However, when the genre was in its infancy, one man signed up to star in a series that would see him spend an entire year naked in a locked room.

In 1998 aspiring comedian Tomoaki Hamatsu attended an audition for the Japanese reality show named Susunu!Denpa Shonen or, Do not proceed, Crazy Youth.

The task seemed pretty simple.

All he had to do was live in an apartment, temporarily cut himself off from the outside world and spend his time entering mail-in sweepstakes until he won ¥1 million (about £6,000).

While he could leave at any time, he stayed for months and was determined to complete the task at hand.

The aspiring comedian was challenged with surviving off magazine sweepstakes (Picture: Disney)

Although he believed his efforts were being filmed for a show that would air at a later date, cameras were instead capturing his every move and broadcasting the footage live to millions of people.

He quickly became the most famous television personality in Japan.

Starting the challenge with nothing, including no clothes or even items to keep him occupied, all of his time was spent filling out entry forms and testing his luck.

For nearly a year, Hamatsu lived off winnings from magazine competitions, including food and other essentials he needed to survive.

At first, he received no sustenance at all, drinking only water and losing weight.

His first food-based prize were some sugary drinks.

He appeared naked on screens across Japan (Picture: Disney)

He later managed to pick up a bag of rice in a competition but was forced to eat it raw as he had no pots or containers to heat and cook it.

After he ran out of the food staple, Hamatsu lived off canned and kibble dog food.

At one point he won a stuffed toy, using it as his sensei and turning to the inanimate object for advice.

Throughout the year-long ordeal, Hamatsu never managed to win any clothing he could wear (one of the few clothing items he won was women’s underwear), whilst also picking up prizes he couldn’t even use like movie tickets and a bicycle.

Even after winning a TV set, he had to wait to watch anything as there wasn’t a cable or antenna in the apartment, a deliberate move by the producers who were fearful he might discover he was already on TV.

His ability to maintain his health or physical appearance also fell by the wayside, with his hair and nails growing long and out of control.

Not provided with food, he survived off rice, canned food and even kibble (Picture: Disney)

It took months before he won a toothbrush and toothpaste to clean his teeth.

At the time he also picked up the nickname Nasubi – translating to aubergine – because of the icon used to cover his genitals on-screen.

Viewers also commented that his 30-centimetre-long face looked like the vegetable.

After spending 335 days to reach his target, Hamatsu broke the Guinness World Record for the ‘longest time survived on competition winnings’, with the show he unwittingly starred on titled Denpa Shonen: A Life in Prizes.

Despite having achieved the initial goal, a trip to South Korea prolonged the experience.

After producers tricked him into travelling overseas, he was then stuck in an apartment for weeks until he won enough prizes to cover the cost of his airfare back to Japan.

He’s now spoken about the experience in the documentary The Contestant (Picture: Disney)

Eventually getting home, he was then taken to yet another apartment.

Believing his ordeal wasn’t over just yet, he instinctively took his clothes off however at that moment the walls of the apartment collapsed, and he found himself in a studio surrounded by an audience.

As they started clapping, he was clearly confused, believing the show had not yet been broadcast and was therefore unsure of what was happening.

The public were completely fascinated by what he’d done, with Hamatsu’s diaries of his experience becoming a best-seller in Japan, while the show broke numerous records during its run after 17 million viewers tuned in each Sunday night.

Unsurprisingly, his reintegration back into society was fraught, with the now public figure once explaining how he struggled to wear clothes for months after and found it difficult to maintain conversations.

He told Style Koriyama in 2020: ‘My mental condition was at its worst.

‘I was like, “Why only me? Why do I have to do all these things? I’d rather die than feel like this”.

‘Every day, I just did the same thing: writing hundreds of postcards, which got me down more mentally rather than physically.’

He added: ‘Although I looked like I was having fun most of the time on the edited show, to me, it was full of pain.’

Although he achieved his initial aim of finding fame, Hamatsu was ultimately unsuccessful in making a career out of his reality show experience and instead became a stage actor.

Hamatsu said he felt ‘cornered’ during the experience (Picture: Disney)

His unbelievable story is the focus of the documentary The Contestant, which was released last year.

Speaking to Deadline ahead of its release, he said the majority of his time competing on the show involved ‘suffering’.

‘In the beginning, the people working on the television show really kind of created all the loneliness for me.

‘I really felt cornered. And then I felt that’s really scary, how humans can do that to other people.’

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