Home is where the heart is.
On 12 April, an electrician contracted by the municipal government of Usuki to service their public restrooms was startled when he saw a human-shaped shadow while installing a light. The contractor contacted the city which then sent some officials and police to the lavatory located in Usuki Park.
They opened a 50-square-centimeter service hatch which allowed access to the wiring as well as a triangular attic above. Upon entering they found that the entire 92-square-meter (990-square-foot) crawlspace was surprisingly well-furnished with a space heater, gas stove, magazine, and various clothes.
Although the attic was only large enough to stand up in the center, everything was surprisingly clean and well organized. And right there in the middle of it all was the public restroom’s resident, an unidentified upper-middle-aged man standing in front of them.
▼ Later on, at Usuki Tsukumi Police Station
After taking him into custody, they discovered the man to be 54-year-old Takashi Yamanouchi of Gifu Prefecture. Yamanouchi told police that he had left his home prefecture 10 years ago and drifted from place to place until making his way to Oita.
He discovered the restroom attic when he saw another person go into it and ended up living there with the person for a time. The other resident had since left, but Yamanouchi had been continuing living there for the past three years.
Perhaps most baffling about this incident is that among all of Yamanouchi’s furnishings, his attic was also full of over 300 plastic bottles of both the two liter (half gallon) and 500 milliliter (17 ounces) variety all of which were neatly organized and full of his urine.
It is unclear whether he did that out of some sort of respect for his toilet home, or if it was cautious acts such as this that let him remain there undetected for so long.
In the end, no matter how careful Yamanouchi could have been, it was only a matter of time before he would have been found out. However, now faced with trespassing charges, the question remains how he will be dealt with. A fine would seem pointless and prison would probably be an improvement.
Looks like it might be time to reconsider the old Edo era punishment of face tattooing.