Shinjuku Tiger – Tokyo Living Legend Has Been Wearing a Tiger Mask for 45 Years

Yoshiro Harada, a newspaper delivery man from Tokyo, Japan, was only 24 years old when he decided to live the rest of his life as a tiger and became Shinjuku Tiger. Today, at age 69, he is considered a living legend of the business district.

Born in Nagano Prefecture, Harada moved to Tokyo in 1967 to attend Daito Bunka University. He started delivering newspapers while he was still in school, and eventually decided to quit the university and dedicate himself to his job full time. He can’t really recall the reason he quit his studies, all he knows is that he wanted to quit. The same can be said about his beginnings as Shinjuku Tiger. One day in 1972, as he was attending a shrine festival in Kabukichō, an entertainment and red-light district in Shinjuku, he passed by a row of shops and noticed one of them was selling colorful, plastic tiger masks. That’s when it hit him, he was going to live the rest of his life as a tiger.


Even though he acted on a spur of the moment, Yoshiro Harada bought 30 tiger masks from the shop, as if anticipating he would need more than one to maintain his persona for decades to come. Since that day in 1972, he has been wearing a tiger mask every day, both on the job, delivering newspapers around Shinjuku, but also in his spare time. He only takes it off when he needs to.

No one knows exactly what prompted Harada to don his plastic mask and become Shinjuku Tiger 45 years ago. In some interviews he said he simply acted on instinct, other times that he just wants to put a smile on people’s faces, or that he did it to save the world. No one really knows, and that may very well include the Tiger himself. One thing is for sure, though, his dedication to his alter-ego has made Shinjuku Tiger a living legend of Tokyo.



View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Miki M (@mikim327) on

Apart from his iconic plastic mask, Shinjuku Tiger also draws attention with his flashy pink wig, eccentric outfit and the dozens of stuffed toys he always carries around with him on his newspaper delivery runs. They reportedly weigh about 10 kilograms, but he considers them family, so the weight doesn’t bother him.

On a typical day, Shinjuku Tiger wakes up at around 3.30 in the morning, puts on his mask and starts his first delivery run at 5:00 am. After about two hours of work, he comes home for a nap, and goes out for a second newspaper delivery run at 3:00 pm. When he’s not on the job, Tiger occupies his time with his three greatest passions, movies, beer and women. He is often spotted in Shinjuku cinemas and knows many local actresses and actors personally.



View this post on Instagram


A post shared by GiapponeTVB (@giapponetvb) on

At 69, Shinjuku Tiger is still as full of energy as he was when he first donned his plastic mask, 45 years ago. While other people his age have long retired from their jobs and are enjoying their pensions, he continues to work every day, and is still somehow able to engage in drinking sessions with friends that last long into the night.

“All my decisions are instinctual,” Shinjuku Tiger said in an interview. “Because in my heart I really am a jungle tiger.”


The life of this iconic Shinjuku legend recently became the subject of a documentary named after him. It doesn’t really reveal too about the man behind the mask and how he became Shinjuke Tiger, focusing instead on his daily routine and his flamboyant personality.

Shinjuku Tiger revealed that he still has 10 of the 30 masks he bought 45 years ago, which should be enough for him to remain a tiger until the day he dies.

Posted in News        Tags: , , , , , ,