NARA--People from across Japan were lining up to go to prison on July 16.
An estimated 10,000 people gathered to take part in a final tour of the Nara Juvenile Prison buildings here before the facilities undergo a full restoration as part of plans to convert them into the nation's first “prison hotel” in 2020.
The red-brick institution was built in 1908, and was the nation's oldest until it closed at the end of March. Designed by architect Keijiro Yamashita at the behest of the Justice Ministry, it is known as one of the so-called five major prisons of the Meiji Era (1868-1912), the others being Chiba, Kanazawa, Nagasaki and Kagoshima prisons.
The five wings that accommodated inmates were built in a radial fashion from a central command post in the center for prison guards.
The buildings are designated by the government as important cultural properties.
The hordes of visitors were allowed to inspect a platform that prison guards used to keep watch over the cell blocks, solitary cells, each five square meters in size, and other areas.
The management of the closed prison is scheduled to be entrusted to a group of private companies in August. The group will renovate the buildings and operate them as a prison hotel.