Japan Prison Unveils Cuddly New Mascot
Institution decides its image needs softening
By Rob Quinn, Newser Staff
Posted Sep 10, 2013 1:15 AM CDT
A guard poses with the new face of Asahikawa Prison.   (Asahikawa Prison/Doshi Web)

(Newser) – A Japanese prison that wants to be known as more than just a forbidding place of punishment has decided to soften its image with a cuddly mascot. The debut of "Katakkuri-chan"—a 6-foot-6 figure in a warden's uniform with a huge purple flower for hair—helped draw around 1,700 people to an annual open day at Asahikawa prison in the country's far north, Sky News reports. "Prisons have the image of being isolated places that have no contact with the rest of society and are surrounded by imposing gray walls," a prison official says. "We made the character to change the image into that of a facility open to society and supported by society."