In all the pain, suffering, and uncertainty facing the people in Japan. There have been some heroes. None of the heroes have been so unlikely as the two members of the Japanese manzai pair “Sandwichman”. The pair, Mikio Date and Takeshi Tomizawa, both have popular blogs on the blog site Ameblo. Both also hail from Sendai.
Fans of Japanese “owarai” or comedy will know them well as the (again) unlikely winners of the M1 annual national Manzai contest in 2007. I say unlikely in this case because they were the team selected by an audience to return to the contest after loosing in the semi-finals. They returned to win it all.
Now they have become heroes in a different way by using their blogs and thousands of followers to get information out about the earthquake and tsunami devastation, resources available, and the good work of people on the ground in troubled areas.
They have also been using their media influence to try and keep the focus of tv programs on the victims of the tragedy instead of grandstanding politicians like Ishihara, and people who want to spin the news.
At one point Mikio Date called a news station telling them to stop showing the announcers’ faces so much and spend more time showing footage of people in the areas so that friends and family members will have a better chance of seeing their loved ones or finding people they’ve had trouble getting in touch with.
They have both spent most of their time in the past few days blogging about the disaster and have opened their comment sections to people who want to talk about the disaster or post the names of people they are looking for or their own status for family members to find.
Their blogs are (of course) in Japanese, but Google translate will give you an idea of all they are working on if you don’t read Japanese that well.
Here’s a video of some of their work… in this they even mention growing up in Sendai and Miyagi before moving to Tokyo. The skit below is called “Foreign Part-timer Worker” about teaching a foreigner some Japanese to use at work in Japan. I’m putting this one up because at least there’s a little English in there.