A bald, naked man who said he was a British tourist went swimming in the moat of Japan's sacred Imperial Palace on Tuesday, climbing the palace wall, throwing rocks and splashing water at police before being taken into custody.
Television footage showed the tall man getting out of the water at one point, chasing police with a rock and a pole and scaling the moat's walls as shocked onlookers snapped photos from their cell phones.
After a nearly two-hour chase police seized the portly 40-year-old who was on a tour of the sprawling palace in central Tokyo with five Spanish tourists, Fuji Television said.
While the group was speaking with police to help, the man reportedly threw his belongings out of his pockets, stripped naked and dived straight into the brownish waters.
"I'm lucky I don't have very good eyesight," an elderly woman told Fuji Television.
"I can't believe he did this here, but he probably didn't know the significance of this area," she said.
Police initially approached the man in a small rowboat and tried to throw him a float. But he suddenly began beating the water in a threatening way and then threw stones at the officers, barely missing them, footage showed.
After he climbed out of the moat, he took a nearby pole and -- his pinkish body still completely uncovered -- charged at the police officers who pushed him back into the water.
Police seized him immediately as he got out of the water a second time.
"We are checking on his mental condition now," a police spokesman said. The man was later released.
Japanese in public usually show respect for Emperor Akihito, whose father Hirohito was revered as a demigod until 1945.
Tourists can walk freely around the periphery of the 284 acre palace, surrounded by 12 moats running 4 miles (7 km) in all, and go inside on a tour.
But most of the centuries-old Imperial Palace is strictly off-limits to the public except on the Emperor's birthday and New Year's Day when the imperial family waves from the balcony to cheering crowds.
But the peripheral area is popular among Tokyo residents for dating, jogging or enjoying lunch when the sun is out.