More medaka mischief.

On 15 April, Hyogo Prefectural Police arrested a 57-year-old Tatsuno City resident for stealing 13 fish from a local dealer. Upon hearing this news, you might be thinking “Oh great! That awful man you reported about two weeks ago was finally caught.”

Sadly, no. This is actually a completely different theft that occurred nearly 500 kilometers away from the one we previously reported on. The only similarity was the target: Japanese rice fish, commonly called “medaka” in Japan.

These fish are said to be easy to care for and breed, making them popular pets. As such, people all over Japan get into selling them, although many don’t take it terribly seriously by the looks of things. A good number of medaka dealers in rural areas just leave them out in the open and rely on the honor system when it comes to payment.

▼ There’s a whole YouTube channel that goes all over the country and chronicles these unmanned roadside fish stands and the many different ways they operate.

For the most part, the medaka for sale at these stands usually go for 500 to 1,000 yen (US$4.60 – $9.20) a bucket, but the fish at the victimized stand were of the “rinka” variety, a breed known for their shiny heads which can fetch a relatively high price of 4,000 yen ($37) each.

▼ A video of a law-abiding citizen buying rinka medaka

The suspect, Kazuhiko Mitsuoka, is accused of plucking 13 rinka medaka from an unmanned stand at approximately 10 a.m. on 30 March. The owner noticed the missing animals and reported it to police, who used security camera footage to track down Mitsuoka and arrest him.

Authorities seized two aquariums containing the 13 medaka, valued at 52,000 yen ($477). Some fish are believed to have been injured, but the tank they were held in was so covered in algae that it was difficult to examine them properly.

Mitsuoka reportedly admitted to the crime while in custody, bringing this case to a close. But we must remind you that the suspect who made off with 300 medaka in a daring midnight raid of the House of Medaka is still at large.

At the risk of making a nautical pun, it appears that Japan is experiencing a wave of these tiny fish thefts. Hopefully, law enforcement can keep making examples out of these small-fry crooks and protect the time-honored tradition of leaving valuable goods unattended and out in the open.

Source: Asahi Shimbun DigitalKobe Shimbun Next
Top image: YouTube/楽めだか【rakumedaka】aquarium ch
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