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Yakuza arrested for riding portable shrine at Sanja Matsuri

Morikazu Obitsu (right)
Morikazu Obitsu (right)
TOKYO (TR) – Tokyo Metropolitan Police on Friday announced the arrest of an organized crime member for riding atop a portable shrine at a festival in the Asakusa district, reports TV Asahi (July 24).

On May 17, Shuichi Obitsu, a 46-year-old boss in the Sumiyoshi-kai’s Asakusa Takahashi-gumi, and one other suspect are alleged to have waved folding fans and revealed their colorful body tattoos while atop a shrine carried through the streets as a part of the Sanja Matsuri.

Obitsu has been charged with inciting disorder, which is a violation of Tokyo’s public nuisance ordinance. The suspect has reportedly admitted to the allegations. “There is no question that my wearing of a fundoshi to show the tattoos on my body caused excitement,” the gangster is quoted by police in referring to an undergarment for the lower body.

In 2007, organizers of the festival banned climbing atop the shrines due to suspicions that members of gangs had been partaking in the practice in previous years.

According to Jiji Press (July 24), problems involving gangsters that took arose in 2014 resulted in an increased police presence this year.