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A Japanese park attendant let 160,000 foreign tourists in for free because he was too scared to charge them the entrance fee

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By Tom Murray, INSIDER
  • An errant employee has cost one of Tokyo's public gardens more than $220,000 in entrance fees.
  • An attendant at the city's Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden was reportedly too scared to ask foreign visitors for payment.
  • The elderly man responsible stopped charging tourists the 200 yen ($1.80) entrance fee in April 2014 after a bad experience and continued doing so until December 2016.
  • Auditors estimated that about 160,000 people had been allowed to enter the garden without paying, costing the park 25 million yen ($223,000) in revenue.
  • The worker has since left his position and offered to return 300,000 yen of his retirement bonus, The Guardian reported.

One of Tokyo's most popular public gardens has lost a lot of money because of one errant employee, it was reported on Tuesday.

Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden charges a meager 200 yen ($1.80) for entry to its grounds, one of the best places to see the country's famous cherry blossoms in spring.

According to the Japanese Ministry of the Environment, which manages the park, Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden, is considered to be one of the most important gardens from the Meiji era.

However, many tourists have managed to dodge the small fee thanks to one of the park's attendants, who was reportedly too scared to ask foreigners to pay up.

The former employee, who is reportedly in his early 70s, failed to charge international visitors the entrance fees for about two and a half years between 2014 and 2017, according to The Guardian.

Auditors estimated that about 160,000 people had been allowed to enter the garden without paying, costing the park 25 million yen ($223,000) in revenue.

"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 ministry officials, according to SoraNews24.

Bizarrely, the attendant had been issuing tickets to foreigners, which had the price of entrance written on them, but not asking for money. He would then ask a colleague with access to the park's database to cancel the sales.

The Guardian reported that in December 2016 the employee was exposed by a colleague who saw him acting strangely when handing out tickets to tourists. He has since retired from his position, been docked 10% of his salary, and offered to return 300,000 yen of his retirement bonus.

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