If we know one thing about prisons, it’s that every prison needs a mascot...just kidding.

A prison in Japan has designed a new, smiling character, hoping to soften the image of the jail. In an attempt to rebrand its dark image as a place of rehabilitation rather than simply incarceration, the Asahikawa Prison in North Japan has created Katakkuri-chan, a happy-go-lucky flower-doffed humanoid. It’s purportedly the only three-dimensional mascot to represent a prison in all of Japan, for whatever that’s worth.

"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 public relations official told News.Com.Au.

Katakkuri-chan made his/her public debut at a weekend fair south of the prison. The character clad in the uniform of a prison warden greeted visitors and played with children. Visitors to the fair could also buy arts and crafts made by inmates. These kind of characters are common promotional aides in Japan, including for the Tokyo Police Department. 

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[via News.Com.Au]