With great power comes great responsibility - or so thinks one 27-year-old Japanese, who dons a superhero costume to wait by the stairs of subway stations, lending his strength to the elderly, people lugging heavy packages and mothers with prams. (Courtesy: RTV/CBS)
(Producer's Note: The original article refers to Power Rangers, which is called Super Sentai in Japan.)
With great power comes great responsibility - or so thinks one 27-year-old Japanese, who dons a superhero costume to wait by the stairs of subway stations, lending his strength to the elderly, people lugging heavy packages and mothers with prams.
Dressed in a green suit with silver trim, his eyes visible behind the mesh of a matching green mask, Tadahiro Kanemasu is the man behind the Carry-Your-Pram-Ranger as he prefers to be called in Japan, as he prefers to keep his identity hidden locally.
He has spent three months helping people at a station in western Tokyo, which like many in the city has neither elevators nor escalators and a long flight of dimly-lit stairs.
"This station has neither escalators nor barrier-free equipment, so people appreciate his service very much," local resident and a mother of 5-year-old boy, Akiko Tsuboki, told Reuters.
Hauling luggage up two flights of stairs is heavy-labor for many.
"He was a great help... though I thought he's a bit odd," 29-year-old businesswoman Natsumi Harashima said after she got help carrying her suitcase up the subway stairs by the good samaritan.
Kanemasu admitted that he got off to a bit of a rocky start.
The people he was trying to help were suspicious of his seemingly good intentions, but slowly warmed up to him after three continuous months of community service.
"At beginning when I started this thing, people called me a weird guy and even were telling me to 'back off.' But after several months, they're now calling me a 'good, weird guy' and became friendly to me," Kanemasu said.
Children generally gravitate towards him when the see their local superhero costume.
Some look on quizzically but most walk up to him for photographs.
"He looks like a hero to me," said 5-year-old Ruka Tsuboki.
Kanemasu pointed out that Japanese, as a people, in general feel ashamed to ask for help.
"Japanese people find it hard to offer or accept help because they feel obligated to the other person, so putting this mask on really helps me out," the slender 27-year-old said.
Inspiration came from the children he met at his job at an organic greengrocer's, which also prompted him to adopt the color green for his costume.
He picked up the green Power Rangers suit, and two spares, at a discount store for 4,000 yen ($40.95) each.
Hayato Ito, who works with Kanemasu at the restaurant-cum-organic food store, was out shopping when he bumped into his superhero colleague.
Ito said that his colleague's kindness to others over the years meant his metamorphosis had not come as a complete surprise.
"There were signs of this from a long time ago, but finally he really flowered as a hero," he said.
Since his time is limited due to his regular job at the grocers, he hopes to form a 'power ranger' unit to help the community out.
"I can do this only a couple of hours a day due to my work shift, so I want to have a team of volunteers to make this service offered all the time," said Kanemasu.
"I want to see red, blue, yellow and pink rangers joining me," he added.
Rumors are rife that candidates for the pink and red power rangers have surfaced, according to his colleague, Ito.