What’s going on in Aichi?

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Aichi, home of Toyota and miso sauce, is normally a rather staid and sensible place; it’s emphatically not Tokyo – no maid cafes or love hotels here, thank you very much.

But recently there have been some strange goings on. The national English language newspaper printed the following disturbing story

This bizarre-sounding crime is actually much easier to carry out in Japan, where people remove their shoes all the time and leave them outside a room or building. I’ve sometimes wondered whether I’ll ever see my shoes again as I leave them outside a popular shrine or temple alongside a hundred other pairs – but so far, they’ve always been right there where I left them when I return.

But this chap was no opportunist shoe thief – he replaced the shoes he stole with a brand new pair in the same style and same size, which must have involved a quick dash to the shoe shop before the woman came out and put her own shoes back on.

A music teacher noticed that her rather worn shoes had morphed into new shoes when she went to put them back on at the end of a day’s teaching, and contacted the police. Hiroaki Katsu was arrested and they found 20 pairs of shoes in his house – presumably the other 19 women had been only too delighted to get a new pair of shoes and didn’t bother troubling the police with their Cinderella moment.

“I wanted to smell the scent of women’s shoes,” Katsu said.

I have a lovely, fragrant pair of trainers which I shall be leaving hopefully outside my door this week.

The second bizarre crime reported this week was the theft of seven piano covers. Yoshitaka Mizuno has been arrested and charged with the theft. He stole one from a high school in Nagoya, but it’s unclear where he nicked the other six – and it’s equally unclear why on earth he stole them. Apparently most people who steal weird things do it for the smell (hence the shoes), but do used piano covers have a particular smell??

Aichi crime number three: a woman left the supermarket and drove a short way before realising that she had a flat tyre. As she stopped to look at it, another car drove up and the driver, Yoshita Harada, offered to help her replace the tyre. She became suspicious because exactly the same thing had happened to her last year. She called the police who checked CCTV footage and found that Harada had slashed her tyre in the supermarket car park. He then followed her, to be the first on the scene and offer assistance.

He admitted to police that he had done it to meet the woman, and confessed that he had already tried the tactic about 1,000 times – always unsuccessfully. But this time he surpassed himself by targeting someone for a second time, so he was not only unsuccessful, but also arrested. He now has to wear a GPS tracker so that his parents can ensure that he stays out of trouble. Poor parents … he’s 32 years old.

Elsewhere in Japan this week, a British man has been arrested for posting his empty bento lunchbox, chopsticks and drink bottle into a postbox, and a man in Kobe was arrested after filling his ex-girlfriend’s mailbox with fried chicken.

It seems to me that being a policeman is much more interesting in Japan than anywhere else in the world.