It’s Like Death Stranding, But For Real [Update]

It’s Like Death Stranding, But For Real [Update]

Updated: 03/01/2024, 10:30 a.m. ET: The couriers that inspired Hideo Kojima’s 2019 action game/delivery person sim Death Stranding are going viral again, and a whole new group of people are learning about the fascinating Japanese job.

Bokka, or “step cargo” porters are essentially IRL versions of Sam Porter Bridgers from Death Stranding, who carry massive loads on their backs up mountain passes and narrow valleys inaccessible to vehicles. Their work has gone viral again on Twitter thanks to a user named Wrath of Gnon, who said that veteran porters “routinely [test] fitter and healthier than elite athletes.” That’s pretty wild.

It’s not too surprising that this has picked up steam again, then, especially now that Hideo Kojima has announced that Death Stranding 2: On The Beach is coming in 2025 for PlayStation 5. The first trailer was revealed during 2022’s The Game Awads ceremony, and the January 2024 State of Play livestream, gave us an even closer look at the wild stuff we’ve come to expect from a Kojima game. There was um, octopus babies, and a dude using a guitar that shoots lightning to fight a samurai guy.

Original story, first published on 12/04/2019, follows:

In Japan, or anywhere with remote mountainous regions, there are porters who carry supplies and food to areas beyond vehicles’ reach. The Japanese word for this is bokka (歩荷) or literally “step cargo.”

This Asahi News report from September 2018 shows a 25-year-old porter named Masato Hagiwara. He weighs 139 pounds but carries fresh food and canned drinks through the high-altitude Ozegahara marshland national park.

His stacks reach over six-and-a-half feet, weighing 220 pounds.

According to Asahi News, it’s important that porters like Hagiwara do not overdo it. Carrying the load requires intense concentration and physical strength, but it’s necessary to take many breaks, especially before one’s shoulders start to go numb.

In that regard, these real-life porters are different from Sam Bridges, who seems to only have to contend with balancing loads and not numb shoulders. But porters like Hagiwara don’t have to deal with terrifying ghosts or take care of pod-babies. Thank goodness for that!

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