Who is the most famous Japanese thief around the world? Lupin III? Perhaps, but originally the idea of Lupin came from the novels of Maurice Leblanc. I wonder if this would make Lupin III French, too? Ishikawa Goemon? Yes, if you are a Lupin III fan, you would think of him, but Goemon was a thief who existed in the 16th century. Hmm, I would say Goemon is the most famous Japanese thief who was an actual person as well as an amination character.
Have you ever heard of Nezumi Kozo? His name means "rat boy." He is the most famous thief in Japan. BBC News have written about him before because his story is similar to that of Robin Hood. He lived during the Edo Period, at the beginning of the 19th Century. He is said to have taken money only from the Dainyo (Rich Samurai) and then given it to the poor citizens. He was arrested twice. The first time his crime was considered small because many Samurai's pride would not let them admit that they had been robbed by a common theif, or so I've read. When he was arrested a second time though, he was tied to a horse, paraded past the public, and then beheaded. We have books, movies, and TV dramas about him. Recently, this theatrical play was in the news.
His grave is in Ekoin now. The funny thing is that we have a legend that a piece of his grave can be considered a lucky charm. This is especially true for an "entrance examination." This is because of his skill at entering anywhere at anytime. Because of this, Ekoin outfits the grave with extra stone for those who want to chip off a piece of it.