Photo: PAKUTASO
crime

Man arrested for stealing ¥30 from Shinto shrine’s collection box

29 Comments
By Casey Baseel, SoraNews24

Outside of sites that have significant historical or architectural importance, most Shinto shrines in Japan don’t charge admission. However, you’ll want to have at least a little money in your pocket if you’re visiting one, since it’s customary to make a small monetary offering while saying a quick prayer before the shrine’s altar.

The offering doesn’t have to be anything extravagant. A single five-yen coin is a common choice (since the Japanese words for “five yen,” go en, are pronounced just the like word goen/”prosperity”). Since few individual visitors donate more than 100 yen, you don’t bother handing the money directly to a priest or shrine maiden. Instead, you simply toss it into a collection box, like the one seen above.

Most shrines leave their collection boxes outside, allowing worshipers to make donations at any time of day or night. This means that in any given town in Japan, there are boxes of cash with whatever money has been donated during the night sitting unattended until the shrine staff comes in to work the next morning.

Knowing this, 55-year-old Masakazu Eguchi, an unemployed man living in the city of Futtsu, Chiba Prefecture, went to a local shrine early on the morning of Nov 13, where he broke into the collection box. However, it apparently hadn’t been a very busy night, spiritually speaking, for the citizens of Futtsu, and Eguchi’s heist only netted him 30 yen in coins.

Still, stealing is stealing, and Eguchi was arrested shortly before 6:30 by a police officer who caught him in the act. Some might say that’s a draconian application of overwrought justice. It’s important to consider why there was a police officer hanging out at the shrine so early in the morning, though. Prior to Eguchi’s arrest, the shrine’s collection box had recently been robbed twice, and the officer had been posted at the shrine under the assumption that it was only a matter of time until the thief came back for a third theft.

Reports don’t indicate whether Eguchi has admitted to the first two robberies, but he does admit that he was robbing the box on Nov 13, saying, simply, “I wanted money.”

Given the small amount of monetary damage Eguchi caused (excepting any possible repair costs for the collection box itself), it’s unlikely he’ll face harsh punishment for his actions. Still, in a country where crime is taken so seriously that you can get arrested for stealing a (as in one) grape, it’s always a good idea to avoid taking things without asking.

Source: Chiba Nippo via Jin

Read more stories from SoraNews24.

-- Travelers’ misguided attempt to earn good luck is damaging Japan’s most famous torii shrine gate

-- Strapped for cash, 1,400-year-old Kyoto shrine leasing part of its grounds for condo development

-- Does Japan’s five-yen coin need a foreigner-friendly redesign?

© SoraNews24

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

29 Comments
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Even the food in prison cost more than what he had stolen. He actually benefits from this whole deal.

Crime is a crime and he should be taught discipline in prison and repent. Stealing from a shrine is the lowest you can go. Bring bad karma.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

¥30 !!??

times must be truly hard if someone has to steal that much yen!

7 ( +7 / -0 )

A man got 1 year in prison for stealing ¥10 a year or two ago. So if there were such a thing as precedent in Japanese court this scoundrel is looking at, at least 3.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Wouldn't it make more cents! to install a security camera and a sensor light than have a policeman spend their whole shift loitering in the dark in the hope a crime might happen? I'm hope there are more useful things the policemen could be doing than this.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Poor guy must have fallen on pretty hard times to resort to having to steal such a pittance from the local shrine. How about the shrine management have mercy on him and help him get back on his feet rather than send him to jail? After all, the shrine is 'God's house' isn't it?

3 ( +5 / -2 )

The priest should have come out to say he asked the man to come and take the ¥30 and he also had forgotten to take silver candlesticks given to him by the shrine.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Make him be a miko in female dress.

-9 ( +0 / -9 )

I caught a man doing this when visiting a shrine in Kyoto. I didn’t report it to the police even though I know where he lives. because I’m a foreigner, I will be questioned about my visa, address, job, family, tax, health insurance, ID, blah blah blah. After a few hours they will do nothing because they need two videos from two different angles.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

Before I don't mind for the 100 yen, to lost it or dropped somewhere. But when I started to work how important the 1 yen. So yes stealing is stealing 30yen is considered a crime theft.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

It’s sad that they would think the appropriate way of dealing with someone who is in a rough enough spot in their life that they are stealing 30 yen is to arrest them.

That’s a failure of society.

9 ( +11 / -2 )

Poor bloke must be at rock bottom, bit off empathy might be nice but sadly thats a dying notion.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

There was a guy sentenced to one year in prison for stealing ten yen from a shrine a few years ago. But, grab a girl on the butt or boobs on the train and get a slap in the wrist.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

I feel sorry for the guy. At least he didn't rob someone or a convenience store.

Kind of a "victimless crime"

Yeah some here may not agree with that, but how desperate would YOU have to be to do what he did?

Some cleaning work at the shrine is good enough penance me thinks.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

A lot of posters write as if he “only” stole 30 yen, but that is just the amount that happened to be in the box when he broke into (and damaged?) it. Had there been 30,000 yen in the box, it’s likely he would have stolen all of it. He was just unlucky to not get much but the intention was there.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Arrested for 30 yen? Damn, the guy should join LDP and then he can bag millions with impunity...thats how its done.

11 ( +11 / -0 )

A lot of posters write as if he “only” stole 30 yen, but that is just the amount that happened to be in the box when he broke into (and damaged?) it.

Ahh, that's a pretty major point. In that case, the entire premise of the headline is misleading - click bait as it were. That I fell for. Oops.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Strangerland...you did make me chuckle sir.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

It’s sad that they would think the appropriate way of dealing with someone who is in a rough enough spot in their life that they are stealing 30 yen is to arrest them.

That’s a failure of society.

No. Rules are rules. Sticking to rules even for just 30¥ is why Japan has the lowest crime in the OECD.

-9 ( +2 / -11 )

He can join the jail cell with the single-grape thief, a paperclip thief, a waiter that took a napkin, and that guy who stole a pen cap

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Rules are rules.

And when we have those big companies breaking the rules, I wonder if their execs go to jail too...

9 ( +10 / -1 )

He didn't target the shrine looking for 30 yen though. That's all there happened to be when he got the box open.

Prior to Eguchi’s arrest, the shrine’s collection box had recently been robbed twice, and the officer had been posted at the shrine under the assumption that it was only a matter of time until the thief came back for a third theft.

Reports don’t indicate whether Eguchi has admitted to the first two robberies, but he does admit that he was robbing the box on Nov 13, saying, simply, “I wanted money.”

0 ( +0 / -0 )

No. Rules are rules. Sticking to rules even for just 30¥ is why Japan has the lowest crime in the OECD.

Except when you are a politician or a J- Inc executive ...then the rules dont apply to you. Moushiwake gozaimasen with a bow is all the price you,d pay.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

Frankly, the cop should be reprimanded for having no common sense.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

“I caught a man doing this when visiting a shrine in Kyoto. I didn’t report it to the police even though I know where he lives. because I’m a foreigner, I will be questioned about my visa, address, job, family, tax, health insurance, ID, blah blah blah. After a few hours they will do nothing because they need two videos from two different angles.”

I don’t blame you, a friend of mine called the police when a guy had an accident and they damn near interrogated him for about an hour, never mind the fact that he was not even involved in the accident but just happened to witness it and thought he was doing the right thing!

5 ( +5 / -0 )

What kind of religion is that, that gets a person arrested for needing -- most likely -- to steal 30JPY? Why not ask for the money to be returned, talk and discuss the person’s problems and try to help them out, as they are obviously desperate if they need to steal 30JP. A chat, a cup noodle and some advice would reflect on the “religion" much more favourably I think!

7 ( +7 / -0 )

ListenToTheTruth is correct. What kind of country arrests a human being for "stealing" ¥30? This is all about a lonely old caretaker that has nothing to do but make more trouble for people.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I know stealing is stealing. However, I'm sure this guy is really down on his luck. I just wish people like him would speak up (to the priest, in this case) that he needs something to get him through the night.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Like many commenters of this forum, I believe that putting the offender in jail for just ¥30 is a shame by Japan's moral standards. I fully agree with quercetum's suggestion that "The priest should have come out to say he asked the man to come and take the ¥30 and he also had forgotten to take silver candlesticks given to him by the shrine". Stealing money and valuables at both Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines is not new when people are in desperate situations. It is how the stealing is resolved constructively and meaningfully that matters. The novel idea that quercetum suggested has already mentioned in the 44th story, "The Thief who Became A Disciple," in Zen Flesh, Zen Bones: A Collection of Zen & Pre-Zen Writings (see https://archive.org/stream/ZenFleshZenBones/zen_djvu.txt).

It is all Masakazu Eguchi's fault, as his petty offence has put the Shinto priest and the Japanese authority in "damned if you do, damned if you don't" law and moral dilemmas. To redeem this, Masakazu Eguchi should perhaps bow very low in front of the priest, local authority, the media, and donors (like the way Japanese politicians and high profiled CEO often do when their wrongdoings were discovered) and promise never steal (at least from that temple) again. To make the shrine deities and everyone happy, he should spend some days to clean the shrine.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Times are hard in Japan. We just don't get a lot of news stories about it, presumably due to the Cultural Shame people in poverty feel about it, and possibly also the general disinterest/detachment others have.

Back in the UK, you only have to walk down a high street to encounter Charity shops - though here in Tokyo, I've yet to see one.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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