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Crime Onsen voyeurism: 17 arrested over decades of hot spring peeping


Unswerving cyclist
14 Mar 2002
Why am I not surprised? When we spent a few days in Gifu last year, soaking in rotenburo, we were joking that hot springs must be honeypots for all kinds of pervert creeps. It turns out they are:

Police in Japan has uncovered a ring of 17 men suspected of photographing and filming more than 10,000 women bathing in hot springs. The group's ringleader was arrested in December 2021 and charged under a nuisance prevention ordinance, a local law against illicit photography. Between December 2021 and February, 16 more men were arrested, including a doctor from Tokyo, senior company executives, and local government officials. The police detained the men in eleven different prefectures. The ringleader has confessed to taking voyeuristic photos of nude women for thirty years in 46 different prefectures; the police told the Yomiuri Shimbun. After being arrested, he informed the police about at least a dozen others in his group.

Saito and his crew used high-end camera equipment like long-focus telephoto lenses to film women bathing in the open-air hot springs, the Japanese police told The Asahi Shimbun. The men would take these pictures while hiding in mountainous areas several hundred meters from the springs, the police said. The group would also get tips from Saito on how best to photograph the women, and hold gatherings to view the footage together. Yutaka Seki, an executive director at the Japan Hot Springs Association, told the SCMP that while photography and filming are prohibited in hot springs, new technology makes it difficult to fully prevent such cases from happening.

Some onsen owners resorted to installing LEDs and other lighting to prevent peepers from taking photos from surrounding hills.

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