Spend enough time on the streets of Shinjuku, and you'll eventually spot a flamboyantly dressed figure in a tiger mask carrying fake flowers, stuffed animals and a boombox. This is Shinjuku Tiger, the subject of a documentary of the same name out this week.
Tiger-san, as friends call him, has been a Shinjuku fixture since the early 1970s, donning his outfit whenever he leaves the house, even while at work as a newspaper deliveryman. It's almost unbelievable his employer allows him to wear his getup while on the job, but this is Shinjuku, after all, which underneath its shiny 21st century exterior, remains a refuge for artists, thespians and other misfits.
The most obvious question is "why?" But despite repeated questioning, the otherwise loquacious Tiger remains tight-lipped about what led him, in 1972, to don a plastic tiger mask and never look back. In one conversation, he insists that it was simply instinct. In another, he mentions with a shrug that he's doing it to save the world. No big deal.