Ito Emi is neither a philanthropist nor a self-righteous rock star. She is a gravure idol whose voluptuous form has graced the covers of magazines, tantalizing teenagers for the last couple years. Her medium of choice is the bikini, which she has just used to raise over 500,000 yen with 100% of proceeds going directly to victims of the earthquake.

Project “bikini de nihon wo genki ni” was an auction that began last Thursday at 100 yen and culminated in a bidding war in which it took over an hour for the last 15 minutes to come to an end (an automated extension program adds time to the clock whenever new bid is entered within the last 5 minutes, or something like that). The price inflated to 530,000 yen (about $6500) with over 170 bidders participating in the action.

I tweeted about the auction last week when it was first announced and, with the risk portraying myself as a perv, I’m reposting the story here because I think it’s an excellent example of how unexpected aid is rolling in from unexpected people. Everyone from gravure idols to the yakuza are coming up with creative way to help the victims of the Sendai earthquake and tsunami.