VIDEO, PICTURES

Masked hero hauls bags, babies up and down Tokyo subway stairs

TOKYO (Reuters) - In a green outfit with silver trim and matching mask, a superhero waits by the stairs of a Tokyo subway station, lending his strength to the elderly, passengers lugging heavy packages and mothers with baby strollers.

"Japanese people find it hard to accept help, they feel obligated to the other person, so the mask really helps me out," said Mr Tadahiro Kanemasu.

The slender 27-year-old has spent three months being a good Samaritan at the station on Tokyo's western side.

Like many in the city, it has neither elevators nor escalators and a long flight of dimly lit stairs.

Inspiration came from the children he met at his job at an organic greengrocer, which also prompted the colour of his costume. He picked up the green Power Rangers suit and two spares at a discount store for 4,000 yen (S$52) each.

Since Mr Kanemasu can set aside only a couple of hours each day for his good deeds, he hopes to recruit others in different coloured suits. Already he has inquiries about pink and red.

Mr Hayato Ito, who works alongside Kanemasu at the greengrocer, said his kindness to others over the years meant his alter ego did not come as a complete surprise.

"There were hints of this from a long time ago but finally he flowered as a hero," Mr Ito said.

Mr Kanemasu admitted he got off to a bit of a rocky start.

"When I first began, people basically said 'Get away from me, you weirdo'," he said. "Now they still think I'm weird but in a good way."