Tokyo Tidbit: Permit Required For Deadly Pitfall

Birthday surprise for her husband: Risa and five friends dug an 8 ft deep hole on a beach in Ishikawa Prefecture, put mattresses at the bottom, covered the hole with a plastic sheet, and sprinkled sand on it. Her husband, the thinking went, would fall in and everyone would have a grand old time. However, as the couple, both 23, strolled along the beach at night, they fell in together. A wall caved in, and sand trapped them upside down. Only their legs stuck out. Their friends, who’d hid nearby to watch the hilarious show, alerted the police 45 minutes later. It took rescue workers another hour to pull them out. Too late. Cause of death: asphyxiation. And as all too often: stupidity. (I have to admit, only due to a series of miracles did I survive my own younger years.)

Now this: Turns out, it’s patently illegal in Japan (Coast Act) to dig holes deeper than 5 feet (1.5m) on a beach without permit from the prefecture. Violators can be punished by up to one year in jail. When asked by reporters, the governor’s office of Ishikawa Prefecture declared that the young people had not applied for a permit, and even if they had, the office wouldn’t have granted them a permit to dig a hole for the purpose of a pitfall.

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