Comically incompetent

Somewhere in the region of 100 watches were stolen from a jewellery store in the city of Tokushima over the weekend. The hefty haul estimated at around 36 million yen (175,000 pound).

Now whilst such an incident is hardly uncommon, when the location of the shop is taken into consideration, it is probably enough to warrant at least a gentle raising of the eyebrows.

Using a stolen car to smash through the store’s metal shutters, one can confidently assume that the robbers made a fair bit of noise. A racket that would have been especially noticeable at 5 o’clock in the morning. Yet rather surprisingly, not loud enough to disturb the carefree coppers stationed nearby. Yes, just 100 metres from the scene of the crime is a police box, but the on-duty officers went on the record as saying they didn’t hear a thing.

japanese policemen

Not a dicky bird.

Ghoulish gifts

For the past several years, annual suicides in Japan have exceeded the 30,000 mark. A frighteningly high figure, and one that the authorities are painfully aware of; but at the same time appear unable to reduce.

Now while not all of these unfortunate souls choose Aokigahara forest (or Sea of Trees) as the place to end their lives, a disturbingly large number do – usually somewhere between 50 to 100 people each year. The forest itself perhaps unexpectedly located at the foot of Japan’s most identifiable icon: the famous and fabulously beautiful Mount Fuji.

Whether this closeness to Fuji has any bearing on its ‘popularity’ isn’t clear, but the forest’s dense nature makes it ideal for those who really don’t want to be found. Providing the perfect location for them to fade away in a private and decidedly quiet manner.

suicide forest

This infamous aspect of Aokigahara means that recovery teams are regularly dispatched to comb the area for bodies, hoping to identify those that they find; allowing any next of kin an element of closure. According to Spa! magazine however, other, more unsavoury types might be getting there before them: grisly scavengers scouring the forest, hoping to find credit cards, valuables, and cold hard cash.

Yet not content with such hearsay, a reporter from the magazine claims to have taken it upon himself to explore the area, supposedly returning with a bounty that included several credit cards, a few valid rail passes, and perhaps more surprisingly, some commemorative coins.

japan suicide forest
*rough translation below

Yet this relatively easy (if ghoulish) sounding path to prosperity is countered somewhat by Ryo Kurihara, the author of a book related to Aokigahara. Kurihara-san claims such spoils aren’t so easy to come by, and a successful trip involves considerably more that just turning up and aimlessly ambling around:

“I’ve used a handheld GPS, transceivers, goods employing the latest scientific technology and loads of people helping me and managed to find 40 bodies in the forest. However, the largest amount of cash I’ve ever found on one has been 90,000 yen [450 pound]. I’ve also found some driver’s licenses, but most of them have been ruined by being exposed to the elements for so long, and it’d be risky to try and sell those ones that aren’t damaged. I’ve also found cards and other forms of ID.”

Not an insubstantial haul by any means, but hardly worth the considerable effort and cost. Plus lugging around such a large number of bodies could slow down proceedings considerably, creating all kinds of logistical problems. Yet despite Kurihara’s obvious experience in this area, rumours amongst locals tell of passing truck drivers stopping on their way through, boosting their salaries with a few festering finds. A practice that, if true, is a decidedly macabre take on the old maxim, ‘first come, first served’.

*Life is a gift you were given by your parents. Please think about them, the rest of your family, and any children you have. You don’t have to suffer by yourself, please give us a call (the Fuji Yoshida police counseling service) and talk to us.

Blogging baloney

“Although blogs have grown into a presence in Japan that cannot be ignored, there is also a flood of irresponsible information being transmitted through the abuse of the anonymity of blogs.” 


Yoshihiro Oto, an associate professor of media studies at Sophia University, on the potentially misleading nature of blogging.

A point that this young, rich and breathtakingly handsome blogger writing from his penthouse suite in Tokyo totally disagrees with.

Never-ending noodle

Amply proving that students have way too much time on their hands, several undergraduates from Kanagawa University spent three hours on Sunday making a 60-metre noodle. A rather unusual endeavour it has to be said, but one designed to draw attention to the town of Takamatsu – a place once renowned for its udon noodles. A feat that they seem to have pulled off quite successfully.

huge noodle

Unfortunately, the downside to being a student – namely a lack of funds – also played its part in the proceedings. Whilst the mammoth measurement of 60-metres would have made it the longest noodle in the world, the udon-loving undergraduates couldn’t rustle up enough money to apply to the Guinness Book of Records.

udon

So instead they just ate it. Although with what wasn’t disclosed.

Racecourse rout

Whilst gambling on soccer is legal in Japan, having a flutter on either the sumo or baseball is forbidden, leaving horse racing to pretty much clean up as far as the nation’s inveterate gamblers go.

Yet one lucky punter managed to turn the tables on the bookmakers at the weekend, correctly predicting the first three horses in a race at Tokyo Racetrack. A trifecta bet that won the wily chancer a whopping 18,469,120 yen (90,048 pound). A figure even more staggering considering it came from a measly 100 yen (50 pence) stake.

japanese racecourse

Yes, I’ll repeat that again. 18,469,120 yen from a single 100 yen bet.

Lucky bastard.