One of the most visible anti-mask and anti-vax demonstrator in Japan was a cosplayer named Rengoku Kazuaki. Dressed as Kyojuro Rengoku from Demon Slayer, he stood out with his spiky wig, flowing cape, and protest signs.
Rengoku Kazuaki led anti-mask demonstrations in crowded Tokyo neighborhoods, including one on Tokyo’s busiest train line. Mask wearing was the norm in Japan prior to Covid-19, and has continued to be so during the pandemic. The practice has long been socially accepted, with people wearing masks in order to not spread colds or combat seasonal allergies, making the sudden stance against them seem particularly odd.
The mask-hating cosplayer even snuck into Japan’s biggest comic convention Comiket, which had issued a mask mandate, and was promptly booted out. YouTuber Joey covered Rengoku Kazuaki’s bullshit—and how the cosplayer was recently picked up by the police after tweeting out his plans for what seemed to be an anti-vax riot.
In mid-February 2022, just as Tokyo was going through its biggest Covid-19 wave to date, Rengoku Kazuaki called for a no mask protest at a rescue-cat cat cafe in Shinjuku. A cat café manager became livid, tweeting that doing so was forcible obstruction of a business—which could mean jail time in Japan. The manager ended up getting Kazuaki’s address and going to his apartment, where he left one note on the door that told him not to come to the cat café. A second note told Kazuaki not to disturb other people. The manager live-tweeted the whole thing in a series of now-deleted tweets.
Perhaps the reverse intimidation worked, or the cosplay finally listened to reason, but Kazuaki apologized and announced on Twitter that he had a change of heart. “Everyone, let’s stop protesting masks,” he wrote. “Let’s stop causing trouble for others!” (Interestingly, the cat café manager and Kazuaki, a cat owner himself, seem to be buddies now.)
Soon after, the now-masked cosplayer then appeared in Tokyo, wearing full Demon Slayer gear and carrying a sign that tells others to mask-up likewise. But a day later, he started running a fever. Kazuaki, who then got a PCR test that same night (while still in full Demon Slayer costume), came down with Covid-19. “It’s different from the flu,” he said in a video tweet. “It’s really rough.” He compared his previous no-mask activities to “bioterrorism.”
Over the weekend, Rengoku Kazuaki live-tweeted his experience with Covid-19, including when a doctor stopped by to check up on him. “I was taking part in anti-mask and anti-vax activities,” Kazuaki told the physician, adding that he has yet to be vaccinated. “I met someone who made me change my ways.” Kazuaki thinks he got Covid-19 at a recent protest he went to and told the doctor that he’ll be wearing a mask from now on. He’s now even thinking about getting the Covid-19 vaccine.