Japan is a country famous for being over-regulated, but the new rule that I faced this Golden Week is too hilarious. Readers might not know it, but in Okinawa, famous for its clear seawater, it is now forbidden to go snorkeling on your own with a snorkel.
When I tried to enter the sea in front of my hotel after putting on a mask and snorkel, I was surrounded by hotel staff who stopped me because it is forbidden. As it was the first time in my life that I’d heard of such a rule, I asked for the reasons. They said there had been a lot of accidents among people snorkeling.
Showing probably an excess of gaijin-ism, I replied that driving is very dangerous yet it is not forbidden, and that snowboarding without a helmet is very dangerous yet perfectly legal in Japan. Their response was that no one can see from the shore whether a snorkeler is breathing or not. I was told, though, that I could join a snorkeling tour with tens of noisy children for a fee.
With that brainless answer and the understanding that I would not be allowed to snorkel under my own responsibility, I went back and checked out of the hotel.
This practice of forbidding people to snorkel might be a world premiere here, as I have noticed it only in Okinawa. As a result, I will choose more reasonable places to spend my holiday. This is a typical case of trying to limit an insignificant risk to life and ending up damaging Okinawa’s tourist industry.
The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.
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