50 First Dates

Real-Life “50 First Dates”: The Story of Li Huayu and Maruyama

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Rom-com 50 First Dates starring Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore comes to life in Japan.

Twenty-two-year-old Li Huayu plays Sandler’s role as he makes his amnesiac fiancée, Maruyama, fall in love with him every day. Their unfortunate yet heartwarming story was featured on the Japanese television show TBS Yume Special.

50 First Dates Comes to Life in Japan

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Rom-com 50 First Dates

Maruyama, 24, suffered injuries from an accident that left her with a severe case of amnesia. She had been with her boyfriend for two and a half years when she was hit by a car while riding her bicycle to work in February of last year, just 5 months before they were set to marry. When she woke up, she didn’t recognize any of the people in her life, including her parents and her boyfriend.

Maruyama

Even after her physical injuries started to heal, her memory didn’t return and even worsened. Maruyama says her case was initially so severe that she often forgot what she looked like but could remember how to do certain physical activities. “Recently my symptoms have become more and more serious. Doctors say that the amnesia may get even worse,” she said. “I don’t remember what I look like, so I look in the mirror and tell myself, ‘Oh, this is my face.’ What I do remember is what my body remembers. For example, when you use the restroom, I can do that. The most helpful was I remembered how to use my cell phone.”

In the weeks that followed her accident, Maruyama said she would wake up and forget what had happened the day before, and her life was constantly starting over day-to-day. This caused quite a strain on Maruyama’s relationship with her loved ones. She was confused every day and even tried running away from home a few times.

Li had to reintroduce himself to his girlfriend every morning, showing her proof of their relationship and explaining what had happened to her. Maruyama soon felt it would be best if they ended their relationship to spare him from her “overwhelming” situation. Li, however, convinced her that he wanted to stay by her side.

Li the Boyfriend

Doctors advised Maruyama to write all the important events of the day in a diary before going to sleep at night so she could read it the next morning and have an idea of what’s been going on in her life.

One morning, after reading about Li and realizing his dedication to her, Maruyama decided to propose to him. She enlisted TBS Yume Special to help her propose to him at Disneyland. “Thank you for your care during this time. You understand me very well and have always tolerated this sensitive and fragile version of me,” the young woman said. “I may lose my memory again, even forget you forever. Are you still willing to be with me?”

Li immediately said yes. “You may have lost your memories, but we can make new ones,” Li told her.

Maruyama Propose to Li

It has been almost a year since the accident, and Li continues to take care of her. “I promise to not go anywhere and she will be well taken care of by me,” Li said while on the show. “There’s a possibility that she may forget again or she may remember like she used to. But even if she loses her memory again, I won’t leave her side. I chose her.”

Watch the video below