There’s a whole world of stuff going on that most people aren’t aware of.
On 19 June it was announced that three teens were arrested for the robbery and assault of a 20-year-old man. The victim was on his moped when a cigarette was put out on his face and his bike and helmet were stolen from him.
Police said two of the three suspects, two boys aged 17 and 18 confessed to the crimes while the remaining 17-year-old girl has denied some charges claiming, “I was just borrowing the bike.” All three reside in the Adachi Ward of Tokyo.
Police also said that the group were engaging in “cork hunting” which caused the room to fill with the sounds of single eyebrows raising. They went on to explain that cork hunting is a practice among bosozoku (young Japanese bikers) to steal the helmets of rival gang members.
Motorcycle helmets which use cork as a shock absorber are said to be preferred among bosozoku, so presumably anyone wearing one is suspected to be in another gang and are targeted. Cork helmets tend to have a unique design that somewhat resembles a baseball cap, so they’re rather unlikely to be worn by casual riders.
If this is the first you are hearing of it, don’t feel bad. You’re not alone as these comments illustrate the widespread unawareness of cork hunting.
“When I read the headline I didn’t understand it. After reading the whole story I still don’t understand it.”
“I heard the word a long time ago but this is the first time I knew what it meant. I used to think cork was valuable or something.”
“That’s scary. There should be a warning label on cork helmets.”
“They live by a different set of rules in Adachi.”
“We should keep these specimens in a zoo and study their behavior to learn more.”
“Cork hunting? It’s stupid trivial stuff like this that gives Adachi its bad name and people say it’s the least safe of the 23 Wards [of Tokyo].”
In defense of Adachi, which had taken a fair bit of heat for this cork hunting escapade, a 2015 study found that it had only the fourth-highest number of reported crimes, and when that’s measured per capita their rank plummets to 13th putting them on the safe side of Tokyo statistically.
That being said, even if they were the “most dangerous ward” in what was deemed the safest major city in the world, it would still only rank Adachi somewhere between Riverdale from the Archie comics and the Mushroom Kingdom.
Furthermore, previous cork hunting arrests have taken place in other places such as Toshima Ward in 2016, Ota Ward in 2013, and Odawara City, Kanagawa Prefecture in 2001.
It definitely seems to be an eastern Japan thing though. Out here in Kansai our ruffians – the one’s who are trapped in the ’80s at least – usually attack and steal each other’s puffy pants in what’s called “bontan hunting.”