It stands to reason that, upon reaching the age of 60 years, a man will find himself in possession of knowledge that he wants to share with younger generations. As a matter of fact, he may even feel compelled to do so, especially if his vocation is one that involves the dissemination of important lessons.
That might have been a factor in the decisions made by Shoden Yamazaki, former head priest of the Choshoji Buddhist temple in Akita Prefecture. And, truth be told, the lesson he claims he wanted to spread, “If you’re not careful, people might steal your lingerie,” is a valuable one.
However, being a good teacher is as much about how you deliver the message as it is the message itself. While it drives the point home, warning people about underwear security by dressing up in a skirt and high heels, then stealing their bras and panties, probably isn’t the best, or even really legal, methodology, which is why Yamazaki now finds himself on trial for lingerie theft.
This isn’t the 60-year-old Yamazaki’s first time to end up on the wrong side of anti-underwear theft legislation. During the investigation, it came to light that he began stealing underwear, upper elementary school girls’ in particular, at the age of 19. He continued his activities even after getting married (unlike their Catholic counterparts, Buddhist priests in Japan are allowed to wed), although when he was caught stealing underwear at the age of 29, he took a five-year break from his criminal activities.
He started up again at the age of 34, though, but was apparently able to keep his perversions well enough on the down low that in 2006 he assumed the position of head priest at Choshoji Temple. You’d think the added responsibilities would leave him less time for grabbing strangers’ panties hanging on their balconies to dry, but according to the prosecution, Yamazaki instead added a new wrinkle, and since four years ago has been dressing as a woman while on lingerie-stealing excursions.
The prosecutors claim that on June 16 Yamazaki set out from his home in Yurihonjo City by car, stopping in Kitagami City to change into a skirt and high heels. He then proceeded to Akita City, the prefectural capital, and found an adult woman’s bra and panties drying outside a first-floor apartment at around 11:30 p.m.
Seizing the opportunity, prosecutors say Yamazaki helped himself to the woman’s underwear. And he would have gotten away with it too, if it hadn’t been for those meddling high heels. From inside the apartment, the husband of the lingerie’s owner heard the clack of the footwear on the pavement. Spotting Yamazaki’s suspicious figure, the husband called out “Hey!”, to which Yamazaki cleverly retorted “This aint got a damn thing to do with me!” His ruse would probably have been more effective if, being dressed in women’s clothing, he’d refrained from using ore, the Japanese word for “me” that’s used almost exclusively by males, but everyone cracks under pressure sometimes.
Seeing through the disguise, the couple called the police. Yamazaki was subsequently arrested, after which he resigned from his position as head priest of Choshoji.
Yamazaki’s trial opened on August 24, during which he asserted that:
“It is dangerous to hang your underwear to dry outside in the middle of the night, so I stole the victim’s underwear to teach her that.”
The prosecutor responded with the obvious question “Isn’t that an unusual way of thinking?” because when the defendant himself is already using words like “stole” and “victim” to describe the incident, well, your job is pretty much being done for you.
Yamazaki’s wife also took the stand, stating:
“I knew my husband was into that sort of thing when he was younger, but I did not think he was still interested in it. I think stress was one of the causes.”
The prosecution is seeking one year in prison for Yamazaki, while the defense is asking for a suspended sentence, based on the fact that the defendant has been undergoing psychological treatment as a sex offender.