Prisons in Japan are not known for being the happiest ones. Well, prisons anywhere are not designed to be happy places, but Japanese prisons have had a long-standing tradition of being bereft of any sunny image, instead they are run to have dark and cold atmospheres that seem break prisoners psychologically. When compared to other prisons, like that Philippine prison that has become a Youtube sensation for its “dancing inmates”, Japan’s penitentiaries are really not happy places at all. But at least one Japanese prison is trying to change that image by employing a cuddly 6-foot mascot.
The prison authorities at the Asahikawa Prison, located just north of Tokyo, want to start changing the image of their prison at the very least, from one seen as a dark place and depressing place to one that helps ease people back into society. With this in mind, they have employed Katakkuri-chan – a mascot with a square face and a huge purple flower on its head – to at least make the prison more accepted by the Japanese society. It is not at all that strange for mascots to be “employed” like this, as in Japan, life-size mascots are popularly used to promote towns, regions, brands, and even causes. Katakkuri-chan has a male and female version and it wears the prison warden uniform.
“Prisons have the image of being isolated places that have no contact with the rest of society and are surrounded by imposing grey walls,” a spokesperson for Asahikwa Prison said. The spokesperson further added that the mascot was employed “to change the image into that of a facility open to society and supported by society.” Katakkuri-chan had first appeared at a local fair and saw thousands of people greet the mascot, which to the authorities meant a positive reception to the idea behind the mascot. “Of course, prisons are for people who have committed crimes and people tend to consider them unwelcome in their neighborhood,” the spokesperson said. “But society has to play its part in supporting the rehabilitation of people who have served their time.”
[via Mirror News]