Wednesday, October 8, 2008

(How many Japanese cops does it take to detain a) Naked Foreigner Swimming in Imperial Palace Moat

(Photo borrowed from Boing Boing)

Is this visual anthropology? I'm not sure... but it is hilarious. And it does relate to what we haven been talking about in class lately, how to photograph people, how to display people in ethnographic visual projects and the responsibilities and ethics involved. In previous posts I have pondered these issues and promised to post some guidelines about the ethical responsibilities of anthropologists photographing in the Japanese public (thanks to the anonymous commenter who reminded me of this promise...). I haven't given up on this project/endeavor; in fact in remains on the top of my in-box. Maybe with the upcoming three-day weekend I can sort through the ever-growing articles and resources and fulfill my promise. Please be patient... In the meantime, blame the naked man for taking attention away from more important matters.

The following news story comes from Japan Today (10/8/08):

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.

See the video of the police trying to capture the man. Yes, it took over an hour for Japanese police to capture a naked man armed with rocks and a pole.

And now we visual anthropologists know that we must cover up peoples' private parts with small blurry dots...


Anonymous said...

I miss Japan so much.

blackamore said...

the man dived into the moat around 11:30 a.m.
mmmmm...seems like objectivity of the JT writer so far is not in danger.