Umbrella heist in Hakodate dampens Japanese city's spirits

Tokyo: Free umbrellas for tourists – what could go wrong? Pretty much everything, as it turns out.

Officials at the local chamber of commerce in a northern Japanese city have been left red faced after hundreds of umbrellas left for visitors to use while they were in town vanished.

The mass brolly theft — about 900 disappeared — has left historic port city Hakodate's feel-good tourism scheme in tatters, and triggered an angry response from some local taxpayers, who slammed it as a waste of money.

One of the free umbrellas made available for tourists in Hakodat. AFP/ Hokkaido Shinkansen Promotion

One of the free umbrellas made available for tourists in Hakodat. AFP/ Hokkaido Shinkansen Promotion

Launched at the end of March, the programme was designed to celebrate the extension of Japan's iconic bullet train service to its northernmost island Hokkaido, where the city is located.

Visitors and locals alike could pick up one of about 1,000 transparent umbrellas — embossed with a multilingual city logo — left at stands around town.

Keep them as long as you like and return them when you're done, signs advised.

But it seems many umbrella lovers helped themselves to a permanent souvenir.

Hakodate's chamber of commerce, which was behind the promotion, says it has added 500 more umbrellas to the depleted stands.

But checks with local hotels, museums and other businesses have turned up just 13 of the missing umbrellas.

"Preferably, it would be good if as many as possible are returned," a chamber of commerce spokesman said.

"But the people who borrowed them are no longer in Hakodate if they were tourists. There may be no way to get them back."

Updated Date: Jun 09, 2016 16:08 PM

Also Watch

Social Media Star: Abhishek Bachchan, Varun Grover reveal how they handle selfies, trolls and broccoli
  • Monday, July 16, 2018 It's a Wrap: Soorma star Diljit Dosanjh and Hockey legend Sandeep Singh in conversation with Parul Sharma
  • Monday, July 16, 2018 Watch: Dalit man in Uttar Pradesh defies decades of prejudice by taking out baraat in Thakur-dominated Nizampur village
  • Monday, July 16, 2018 India's water crisis: After govt apathy, Odisha farmer carves out 3-km canal from hills to tackle scarcity in village
  • Sunday, July 15, 2018 Maurizio Sarri, named as new Chelsea manager, is owner Roman Abramovich's latest gamble in quest for 'perfect football'

Also See