Are you tired of the same old gifts from Japan? You know, the kind that all gaijins buy at the airport and think that people back home will like - tacky yukatas pretending to be kimonos, chopsticks, overpriced tea sets, fans that are in reality made in China and so on…
This time I thought I’d try something new. Actually, I didn’t even think, it just sorta happened.
We went shopping and run into a massive market (inside our local shopping mall) selling items made by inmates doing time in various Japanese prisons.
The selection was simply mind-boggling, from really fancy coffee tables, to pillows, to kitchen stuff, to quite nice paintings and carvings of Hokkaido nature, to soy sauce (yes, organic and made by prisoners) and udon noodles. There was even scented soap, which totally creeped me out, especially since I just finished “The Reader” earlier that day. (By the way, I hated the English translation of this book, it’s stiff and inconsistent.)
Unfortunately, I didn’t see any T-shirts. So, instead I got this cute cell-phone holder, which I’m using as a case for my make-up compact. Yes, I got it as a gift, but then decided to keep it, because I am THAT selfish.
The holder was made by kids doing time in juvie in Hakodate. I want to contact this prison’s administrator and suggest they start making T-shirts and tote bags. What do you think?