A 31 year old guy was sentenced to 5 1/2 years in prison for stealing a Peko-chan doll. Peko-chan is a famous character of the sweets maker Fujiya. Today another guy who lead the plot by mail was sentenced to 7 years in prison. A UK news site reported "Japanese man gets jail time for 'kidnapping' dolls". Ha ha ha! But why did they steal Peko-chan?
Fujiya is a pioneer of western sweets in Japan. They started to sell shortcakes in 1922, back in the days when the Japanese hardly ate western cakes. After WW2 cakes became more common in Japanese food life. Actually in those days, speaking of cake, it was Fujiya. When I was a kid, mom ordered birthday cakes from Fujiya and dad somtimes picked up cake and some ice cream after work. Yes I must tell you, for children of the Showa era (1926-1988), Fujiya was something special and it still has a sweet, nostalgic air with distant childhood memories even now.
Since we now have a lot of good Patisseries and cake shops, I must tell you that I can't remember the last time I ate a Fujiya cake. But peko-chan is really a big collecter's item for all generations. She was born in 1950 and after that she has always been a symbol of Fujiya. She is on candy packaging, candy bottles, other sweets. This September Fujiya opened a Peko-chan online shop where they sell only peko-chan goods (no sweets there.) However, the most valuable item is this "not for sale" Peko-chan doll in front of fujiya shops. (Here is another good article.) The guys have to go to prison for stealing 9 peko-chans worth about 320,000yen. They sold them for about 800,000yen on the internet. Their target was this very old type. Poor peko-chans. Many peko-chans are now chained up, I heard.