A 40-year-old British tourist was taken into police custody Tuesday after swimming naked in a moat around the Imperial Palace, police officials said.
The man, a resident of Spain, was on a sightseeing trip along with seven Spanish tourists, according to the police.
According to police, the man dived into the moat around 11:30 a.m. after he visited a local police box near the Imperial Palace together with five friends who were all foreigners in their 40s or 50s. Some of the group spoke to a police officer in English, telling him they had accidentally dropped a bag into the moat and needed something to fish it out with. Then one of the men suddenly stripped off and dived into the moat, police said.
Fifty police officers and firefighters were mobilized to catch the man who threw rocks and splashed water at two policemen in a rowing boat. Local TV footage showed the man swimming around the moat as the police chased him with a long stick, attracting a crowd of onlookers. He was in the water for about an hour.
He eventually got out of the water and climbed a stone wall only to fall into the hands of police officers who were waiting for him.
Broadcasters were careful to meet Japan's obscenity laws once he had climbed out of the water, masking images of his private parts with a blurry dot.
A police official said he had never heard of a skinny dipper causing a stir in the palace moat before. The moat is separated from the emperor's residence by high stone walls and woods.
A palace official said the emperor was in the palace, but it was unlikely he saw the nude swimmer.© Wire reports