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'Gratitude from Wuhan': Chinese woman hands out 1,000 masks in Tokyo's Shibuya

A Chinese woman who passed out 1,000 face masks to pedestrians in Shibuya, Tokyo, is seen wearing a deer head mask in this photo provided by the individual.
A Chinese woman who passed out 1,000 face masks to pedestrians in Shibuya, Tokyo, is seen in this 2017 photo taken in Beijing provided by the individual.

BEIJING (Mainichi) -- A Chinese woman wearing a deer head mask handing out face masks to pedestrians in Shibuya, Tokyo, from a cardboard box with words on it reading, "Gratitude from Wuhan," has become a viral hit on social media.

A video showing the woman passing out masks, and several other men helping her, from noon to around 4 p.m. on Feb. 23 was posted on several social media platforms including Sina Weibo, a Twitter-like service in China. The video has garnered over 19 million views as of Feb. 26.

In comment sections, many people agreed with what she had done, with one post in Chinese saying, "Thank you for expressing the feeling of appreciation that residents in Wuhan have for the people of Japan."

When the new coronavirus spread in Wuhan, the Japanese government was one of the first countries to offer relief supplies. Furthermore, Chinese poems written on cardboard boxes delivered from Japan to China have dominated discussions in China. One such poem roughly read, "Even though we are in different places, we are looking at the same sky."

In a search to find the woman's identity, a Mainichi Shimbun reporter discovered from a sea of internet postings that she is a Chinese individual who has been in Japan for 10 years. She established an advertising company while in graduate school, and is working as a model and manga artist. She has also been included in a list identifying a next generation of leaders called, "30 Under 30," by American business magazine Forbes.

In replying to an email asking why she distributed the masks, the woman said, "I'm flooded with regret for (Chinese citizens) spreading the infectious disease to Japan. Despite this, the people of Japan offered relief supplies to Wuhan. I wanted to return the favor as a representative of the people of Wuhan."

According to the woman, she handed out 1,000 masks -- 500 of which were donated to her by another female Chinese business operator who bought them in China, and another 500 which she purchased online over a period of two weeks.

After exchanging several conversations, she told the Mainichi, "Many residents in Wuhan are staying inside their homes in a bid to stop the infection from spreading further. Please forgive the people who escaped (from Wuhan)."

Some Japanese people who received the masks patted her on the head and said, "Xie xie," meaning "thank you" in Chinese, and, "Jiayou," meaning "hang in there." She says other Chinese groups have contacted her saying they too would like to engage in similar activities.

(Japanese original by Joji Uramatsu, China General Bureau)

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