Japan Skinny Dipper
Shinichiro Maeta  /  AP
A man identified as a middle-aged Westerner swims in the moat of the Imperial Palace in Tokyo as Japanese police officers on a boat try to apprehend him on Tuesday.
updated 10/7/2008 9:47:15 AM ET 2008-10-07T13:47:15

Police have apprehended a Western man who went skinny dipping in a moat ringing the Imperial Palace in a busy Tokyo business district, attracting a huge crowd, officials said Tuesday.

The naked middle-aged man jumped into the moat, then threw rocks and splashed water at two policemen who chased him in a rowing boat, a Tokyo Metropolitan Police official said on condition of anonymity, citing protocol.

The police official did not know the man's name or nationality.

Local TV footage showed the man swimming around the moat as the police chased him with a long stick, attracting a crowd of onlookers. He was in the water for about an hour.

Video: Skinny dipper caught in royal moat

Private parts
He eventually got out of the water and climbed a stone wall only to fall into the hands of police officers who were waiting for him. The police official said the man was detained for questioning, but could not confirm if he was arrested or charged.

Broadcasters were careful to meet Japan's obscenity laws once he had climbed out of the water, masking images of his private parts with a blurry dot.

The police official said he had never heard of a skinny dipper causing a stir in the palace moat before.

"If you know what is within the moat, you won't go skinny dipping there," he said, referring to Emperor Akihito, who lives in the palace. The moat is separated from the emperor's residence by high stone walls and woods.

A palace official said the emperor was in the palace, but it was unlikely he saw the nude swimmer. He also spoke on condition of anonymity in accordance with palace policy.

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