Meant to be a welcoming face and a positive link between prisoners receiving rehabilitation in the prison and citizens in the community at large, this adorable mascot was introduced, and explained to the media and the public, at the prison’s annual fair on September 8, 2013.
Officials at Asahikawa Prison in Japan, located on the northern island of Hokkaido some 560 miles north of Tokyo, reportedly wanted to lighten up the prison’s negative image with the public. The prison is famous for housing Japan’s worst criminals, and though considered a “must-see” by Japan Experience.com, it is considered a dark, foreboding place by its neighbors, according to prison officials.
The smiling 6-foot-6 tall mascot, that, other than it’s giant purple hat, which is reportedly based on a local flower, is dressed like a prison guard, and has both a male and female renditions, is meant to communicate to prisoners that prison authorities understand what they are going through with their rehabilitation.
Officials also seem to want those outside the prison to be more supportive of its inmates’ rehabilitation.
One official told the media, “Prisons have the image of being isolated places that have no contact with the rest of society and are surrounded by imposing grey walls. We made the character to change the image into that of a facility open to society and supported by society. Of course, prisons are for people who have committed crimes and people tend to consider them unwelcome in their neighborhood, but society has to play its part in supporting the rehabilitation of people who have served their time.”
It is not known who will be the lucky one that gets to wear the mascot costume in and around the prison.