Guy drops wallet in Tokyo street to see what people will do

Originally published at: Guy drops wallet in Tokyo street to see what people will do | Boing Boing


Things are different in a place that wasn’t colonized.


From what I’ve heard there is one exception: umbrellas. When it starts to rain, people see umbrellas as public property.


A MacBook and an iPhone, easily worth a thousand dollars…

I would like to know where this guy gets his electronics.

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I can’t speak with any level of authority as i’ve only been there once but i did misplace my umbrella and it was still there at the store i lost it in the next day :slight_smile:

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People generally behave the same way here in the People’s Republic of Burlington. I’ve been chased down for blocks with someone returning a forgotten wallet, and people have a habit around here of leaving their cars unlocked and running when running into the local country store or leaving their laptops unattended when they run to the bathroom.

Japan has some really interesting laws when it comes to lost and found items, as I found just last month when I picked up somebody’s iPhone and delivered it to a police box.

I had to spend thirty minutes filling out paper work with the police about what I had found and where. They catalogued everything in detail (the phone case had the guy’s driver’s license and credit card and a bit of cash) and took my information as well.

I was told that the cash would become my property if not claimed by the owner in 30 days (they could not do that with the phone because it contained private information, but otherwise anything you turn in is yours if not claimed in time).

A week later, I got a postcard from the police informing me that the owner had come forward and, as such, I was entitled to 20% of the value of the items turned in (this is sometimes 10% depending on the circumstances). It went on to say that the claim would be forfeit if I did not pursue it within 30 days. I declined.

A few days after that, I received a lovely gift box in the mail from the owner of the phone (having consented with the police to share my details with the owner).


This applies to Japanese run stores here in the USA as well. I forgot a case of instant ramen at a Mitsuwa store one day (don’t judge, it’s my weakness)[I had left it on the bagging area after gathering up everything else], and was bemoaning the fact to a friend a few days later. He lived near the store, so took my receipt, and stopped by the store.

Instead of just re-stocking the non-perishable item, they had set it aside at the manager’s area, and gave it to him to give to me after he showed them my receipt. The cashier had noted that I’d forgotten it, and they set it aside with details on the time etc… of purchase.


Visited a friend who had lived in Japan for 12 years and they said the same thing as Paolo that pretty much the only thing that gets stolen are bikes, which is interesting given this is such an important and valued mode of transport.

Yes you can leave all your luggage on a train station platform and it will be there when you return.

We have many honor system roadside stall where I live which has a lot of city tourist traffic. The general consensus of the stall owners is that when people are confronted with a system that empowers honesty they usually end up paying extra and if people don’t pay then they probably have no money and need what they take, little harm no foul.


The real crime is beer in a paper cup.

I believe it. A woman once followed me off a train in Tokyo to return my dropped cell phone. I hope she got back on before the doors closed, but also the subway runs fast enough maybe it wouldn’t be a problem.

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Jim Gaffigan says “the Japanese are just better at being people.” I guess this confirms it.

A friend’s father would brag how he left his car parked with keys in the ignition and the car somewhere in Tokyo and it was still there when he got back!
A real beacon of civilization… but don’t mention this to folks in Korea… saaa bit touchy.
Wouldn’t the Singaporean model of a good public stoning help rewire people’s pathological individualism?

Unnecessary Injection of Imperialism Tropes-- 5 yard penalty.

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Truth. Anyone who leaves an umbrella somewhere is assumed to be a Good Person and is donating that umbrella to the group for greater harmony. When it rains, the people will claim their rights.

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That’s a lovely story. :slight_smile:

It reminds me of things that would happen to me when I lived there. For example, I would sometimes (try to) leave a tip at a restaurant or coffee shop. Most of the time, the server would chase me down to return the money to me that they thought I’d forgotten to take.

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I’ve noticed this when I drive through central CA.

A lot of the fruit grove owners set up little honor stalls on the side of the road with a lockbox (usually welded to an entrenched post). Nobody could steal the $ easily, but produce is sitting right there.

It’s the best way to buy fruit, because it’s usually hand picked stuff that’s too ripe for bulk shipping to a store.

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If by “better at being people” you mean horribly racist and completely ignoring the horrors they inflicted on the Chinese (and others) during WWII, I guess you’re right.

And this is the good stuff before it is picked early so it can be refrigerated and shipped and arrive looking good… all that stuff we want to buy out of season that has no flavor.

A good tip with apples if you live somewhere that has frosts is to buy the ugly dinged up ones because they have survived the frost and their sweetness is so much more intense.

Don’t just go for the good looking fruit and vegetables!

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Or he could have just drawn a yellow circle around it. Derren Brown, how not to have your wallet taken