Seller costs Tokyo garden a fortune as he did not charge foreigners

Thousands of tourists got into Shinjuku Gyoen garden for free as seller was scared to ask vistors to pay admission fee

An attendant at a popular garden in the heart of Tokyo has cost the facility millions of yen because he was "too frightened" to ask foreign visitors to pay the admission fee.

The attendant, who is in his early 70s, admitted failing to collect the fees for Shinjuku Gyoen national garden after an investigation was launched following a tip-off by another employee.

The unnamed man, who has since retired, reportedly said he had stopped collecting admission fees of 200 yen (€1.56) for adults and 50 yen for children in April 2014, and had continued to allow foreign visitors in free of charge for about two and a half years.

As a result an estimated 160,000 people entered the garden – located a short walk from Shinjuku’s skyscrapers and the world’s busiest railway station – without paying.


The environment ministry, which manages the garden, said this week that it had lost at least 25 million yen (€194,990) as a result.


Local reports said the man 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.

The man handed out tickets without charging for them, then asked a colleague with access to the garden’s database to cancel the sales so there would be no discrepancy between recorded and actual revenue.

The ruse 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 errant employee was docked 10 per cent of his salary, according to the Sankei Shimbun newspaper. He asked to take retirement and offered to return half of his retirement bonus, or about 300,000 yen. – Guardian Service