"I will come shovel snow for free", Twitter posts from 3rd year Hokkaido University student Fujita cause a stir online

Fujita Michiro speaks on his feelings towards volunteer snow shoveling, "Even if it is only a few people, I want to put them at ease as much as I can."

A new account has appeared on “Twitter”, and is causing quite a stir on the internet. The account name is “Sapporo City, I will come shovel snow for free.” (The original Japanese name is 札幌市 無料で雪かきしに行きます。) The account owner is third year Hokkaido University Humanities and Human Sciences student Fujita Michiro. In the wake of record snowfall blanketing Sapporo city, he has set out on his own to shovel snow as a volunteer. Since setting up the account on February 9, it has received over 750 followers. And by February 17, he answered four snow shoveling requests. His motivation is, “I want to do whatever small things I can do to help people in need.” The roots of this desire lie in an experience in his past.

Late December of last year, Fujita’s car became stuck in the snow while driving in Sapporo, and he was saved by a woman passing by. Fujita hails from the warm Ehime Prefecture. Experiencing for the first time this type of neighborly kindness unique to a snowy climate, he felt, “I wish there was something I could do to help out, too.”

In the free time available during the university spring break, he set up a Twitter account. He started taking requests through the direct mail (DM) option there. This wound up overlapping with the disruption being felt in daily life among Sapporo residents due to the record levels of massive snowfall, and he received numerous comments of support, such as, “I cannot do much, but I can share your Tweets,” and, “Even when people want to help, there are not many people who can actually go help out like you.”

His first day to set out to shovel snow was February 13. Loading his car with shovels and snow scoops he supplied on his own, he went to the home of a requestor in Chuo-ku. Together with two friends, he worked for one and a half hours to clear out snow in a parking area. His Twitter post reporting the activity with photos earned about 1,500 “likes”.

And after that as well, he continued to work hard in other places including an entrance to a car port blocked off with over one meter of snow, making it impossible to enter or exit by car, and a trash disposal area. Because he mostly shovels on his own, it is hard for him to respond to every request. But his eyes sparkled as he reported that, “I feel a sense of responsibility and joy at people relying on me,” every time a requestor expresses words of gratitude to him.