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Tokyo Garden Loses Fortune Because Attendant was Scared of Foreigners

According to reports, the environment ministry, which manages the garden, said this week that it had lost at least 25 million yen ($220,000) as a result.

News18.com

Updated:October 30, 2018, 10:22 AM IST
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Tokyo Garden Loses Fortune Because Attendant was Scared of Foreigners
Visitors enjoy the cherry-blossom viewing at Shinjuku Gyoen national garden in Tokyo. (Image: AP)

If you happened to have visted Japan's capital Tokyo between 2014 and 2016, and if you happened to have visited the popular Shinjuku Gyoen national garden, chances are you may have got to wander over 144 acres of lush, manicured lawns for free.

This is because an unnamed elderly employee, now in his 70s, was scared of approaching foreigners and asking them to purchase the requisite ticket, which cost 200 Japanese Yen (a little less than $2).

And so an estimated 160,000 people entered and explored the garden, which is a stone's throw away from Shinjuku district’s towering skyscrapers as well as the world’s busiest railway station.

The national garden, completed in 1903 during the Meiji Restoration, is a popular tourist spot, and is split into three distinct styles: French Formal Garden, English Landscape Garden and Japanese Traditional Garden. It is also one of the most popular spots for photographic Japan's iconic cherry blossom trees, which flower in spring.

According to reports, the environment ministry, which manages the garden, said this week that it had lost at least 25 million yen ($220,000) as a result.

Local media said that the attendant who was supposed to sell tickets told ministry investigators that being yelled at by a non-Japanese visitor years ago had made him wary of overseas guests. “I don’t speak any other languages and I got scared when a foreigner began yelling at me a long time ago,” he told ministry officials, according to SoraNews24.

In his bid to avoid conflict, the man would simply hand out tickets without charge, then ask colleagues with access to the garden's computer database to cancel sales in order to hide any disparity between tickets sold and sales earned.

His scheme worked until late December 2016, when another member of staff witnessed him behaving strangely when issuing a ticket to a foreign visitor and alerted management.

The elderly employee was reportedly fined 10% of his salary. He then asked to take early retirement and even offered to reimburse the park with half of his retirement bonus, about 300,000 yen.

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