• Kyodo News

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More than 70 child welfare centers and orphanages across the nation have reported anonymous donations of backpacks for schoolchildren and other items since the Christmas season — all under the names of cartoon heroes.

Among the names used by donors is “Date Naoto,” a cartoon character and himself an orphan, who becomes the pro wrestler “Tiger Mask” and supports other orphans in a cartoon series from the 1960s.

Other pseudonyms include “Unfortunately, I am not a Tiger Mask,” “Jo Yabuki,” an old-time animation character who is a boxer and friend to impoverished children, or “Momotaro,” a nursery tale hero.

Their gifts range from stationery and cash to rice, vegetables, fruit and millet dumplings.

In one instance, at an orphanage in Yamaguchi Prefecture, a box arrived Monday containing two school knapsacks along with a DVD of the animated film “Laputa — Castle in the Sky” by famed director Hayao Miyazaki.

The letter attached to the box said, “I am moved by Tiger Masks appearing in various places in the country. This is just a token of my thoughts but it would make me happy if you could make use of them.”

Also on Monday, a man who appeared to be in his 30s showed up at an orphanage in the city of Fukuoka and handed an employee five backpacks. “I decided to make a gift of school bags after watching TV,” the man, who didn’t identify himself, was quoted as saying.

In Hyogo Prefecture, school knapsacks were left in front of an orphanage with a letter from “Jo Yabuki” saying, “It’s about time I come out.”

At a similar institution in Okayama, knapsacks and “kibi dango” millet dumplings were delivered with the sender’s name, “Momotaro.” The nursery tale character Momotaro gives kibi dango to a monkey, a dog and a pheasant in exchange for their promise to fight “oni,” Japanese monsters. In Matsuyama, Ehime Prefecture, five printers were delivered by Tiger Mask to a child welfare center.

Workers at these institutions showed appreciation. Hiroshi Iwai of the Matsuyama child welfare center said: “We will use (the printers) when children draw pictures and we send postcards and letters. We appreciate this very much.”

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