A Tokyo garden has lost $223,000 in potential revenue because one park attendant was too shy to charge international tourists.
Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden is one of Tokyo’s most famous public gardens. Every year, millions of people visit the gardens to watch Japan’s famous cherry blossoms bloom in the spring.
Getting into the park isn’t particularly hard: you just pay the nice attendant a fee of 200 yen (roughly $1.80) and just pass through the gate. However, if you were a foreign tourist that visited the park between April 2014 and December 2016, you might not have had to pay even that paltry sum.
A Shinjuku Garden gate attendant stopped charging international tourists their entrance fee after an altercation with a foreign guest several years ago. The attendant, who is in their 70s, found the experience so terrifying that he stopped charging foreigners altogether.
What’s worse, he didn’t just fail to charge tourists their entrance fee. The elderly attendant went a step further and actually voided the transaction after the fact with the help of a co-worker authorized to perform the retraction.
Despite the fact that it says 200 yen right on the ticket, no tourist ever reported the mistake. It wasn’t until December of 2016 that the elderly attendant got caught by another park worker who saw him acting strangely around foreign tourists.
"I don't speak any other languages, and I got scared when a foreigner began yelling at me a long time ago," the employee told officials at the time.
It took auditors nearly a year to determine the amount lost due to the attendants “generosity.” With approximately 160,000 tourists let in for free, Shinjuku Garden lost 25 million yen, or roughly $223,000, according to Sora News 24.
For his transgression, the attendant took an early retirement but not until being docked 10% of his salary. In shame, the attendant has offered to return half of his retirement bonus, which works out to 300,000 yen or $2,650.
Now tourists are back to paying the full price of admission, but it seems a small price to pay for such gorgeous foliage. Shinjuku in the fall is a dazzling display of vibrant colors that seem well worth a few bucks.