The world has seen many unique methods aimed at increasing road safety, from traffic control towers to roadside sentries. In Miyakojima, the local traffic safety association tried a slightly new way back in the 1990s, when five policemen-like figurines were set up at various crossings around the island. These were known as Mamoru-kun patrolmen.
As the story goes, Mamoru-kun was born on August 5, 1991. He stands 180 centimeters tall, and his official titles are “Miyakojima Safety Association Staff” and “Miyakojima Police Transportation Division Officer.”
Over the years there have been more figurines set up all over the island. Currently you can find 20 Mamoru-kun in various places in Miyakojima. Nineteen of these patrolmen are male, but at the Miyakojima Police Station, you can also find his female colleague Maruko-chan.
Thanks to their loyal service in all weather conditions, Mamoru-kun was also given a special Miyakojima residence permit by Mayor Toshihiko Shimoji in a ceremony back in 2012.
Originally these figurines were considered kimo (creepy), but recently Mamoru-kun have got their own fanbase. With their popularity rising, you can now also find Mamoru-kun cookies, soft drinks, and more.
Know Before You Go
You can find a map with all Mamoru-kun marked out here (the website is in Japanese).