The Greatest Japanese Prison Escape Yoshie Shiratori

The Prison Break Magician, aka Yoshie Shiratori, was born in Aomori, Japan, on July 31, 1907. Yoshie escaped four times from prison. Even handcuffs, copper walls, and a dislocated shoulder couldn’t stop his daring escapes. You can find out the whole story and a few interesting facts about the Japanese national hero “Yoshie Shiratori” in this article.


Aomori Prison

Prisoner Yoshie Shiratori is tired in Aomori, Japan, 1936. His crime was forced upon him. The jail guards in Aomori Prison beat and tortured him every night while he was falsely imprisoned. Despite this, escaping from Aomori Prison was not easy. At 5:30 am he began his escape. As he had studied the guard’s routine for months, he knew there was a 1 to 5 minute difference in the patrol period. Having cleared the area, he pulled out the metallic cable he had smuggled into the bathhouse and began to open the lock. Soon after opening the cell door, he was able to swing it open. But he wasn’t out of the prison yet since there were still more locked doors to come. He realized he only had a couple of minutes before the guards returned, so he wasted no time picking his way through the rest of the corridor doors. Now fortunately for him, he was able to escape this facility. But the bad news is that he was only halfway to independence. As long as he remained inside the hunt perimeter, he could be caught at any moment if the alarm sounded off.

The guards returned at 5:45 p.m. to check out his cell. Shiratori seemed to be asleep. However, they did not realize they were looking at something entirely different – a pile of floorboards built to deceive them. The alarm was sounded the following morning after they discovered the truth. Shiratori had already left by then. This was the beginning after he had been captured by trying to slip supplies in a hospital some time ago. 

2. Back To The Prison Life

prison life

He would never see his family again, including his wife and child. In spite of months of preparation, he only had three days of freedom and it looked like he would be locked up for a long time. During the Second World War, Shiratori was taken to Akita Prison in Akita City six years later. There he was treated much more harshly than in Aomori. Shiratori’s last escape was known to them, and they were determined to bring him to justice. In addition to being beaten, he was subjected to brutal physical labor and forced to sleep on concrete floors in severe winter conditions. It was a specially designed solitary confinement cell that was very small and had copper sheets covering the hard-to-grab walls.

Additionally, there was not much sunlight during the day. There was only one tiny skylight in the ceiling. The area was designed to prevent escape artists from fleeing. In addition, Shiratori was always handcuffed by the guards Kobayashi the chief guard had sympathy for him despite the repeated torture. Kobayashi never touched him and he even seemed to check in on him from time to time as if he was worried about his well-being. Shiratori’s life may have become a little easier as a result of this.

3.SuperHuman Powers

superhuman powers

The 15th of June, late at night. Shiratori was in the middle of one of his long stays in solitary confinement. After midnight, one of the guards looked inside his cell and couldn’t believe what he saw. As Yoshie Shiratori opened the cell door and stared around in astonishment, he had disappeared into thin air. Only his shackles remained. How did he do it? Shiratori was an expert at escaping shackles. In reality, he had several options. Here, he chose lock picking. However, he could have chosen any of them. He searched his surroundings for anything that might help him escape. Like in Aomori Prison, he was able to find a loose wire. Perhaps it was a gift from Kobayashi.

In order to mount the unclimbable wall, he placed his hands and soles on the copper sheets after releasing himself from the cuffs. Shiratori was an experienced climber with the rare ability to scale like a lizard. The skylight above was indeed closed when he reached it. However, the wooden framework around it was decaying.

4.How He Prepared For The Escape

man escaping from prison

Then, at night, when the guards weren’t looking, he climbed the copper walls and slowly loosen the frame. To avoid suspicion, he would return to ground level and set the handcuffs back. After months, the window opened. All that remained was to choose the right day. Since he surfaced before a stormy night, the guards wouldn’t be able to hear his gaze on the roof. That was it. He had escaped.

5.Kindness Got Him Arrested:

A knock on the door was heard by the head guard Kobayashi three weeks later, on September 18th. To his surprise, that was escapee Yoshie Shiratori messy and untidy. The stunned Kobayashi took him in, fed him all and listened to what he had to say. The only reason he escaped twice was because he was abused by guards. Kobayashi was the only person who treated him with some respect, however. Shiratori willingly cooperated with the Justice Office as part of this plan of action. In order to prove the corruption of the Japanese prison, Shiratori will have to testify personally. It’s an ambitious plan, no doubt. This is why he asked Kobayashi, the well-respected head guard of Akita Prison, to vouch for him to strengthen his own case. He was the only Head Guard who treated him fairly.

Kobayashi called the police later, while Shiratori was in the bathroom. Just like that Shiratori was back from prison and at this moment he pledged to not trust an officer of the law again. After his second escape, the jury added three more years to his life sentence. Shiratori wanted to be transferred to Tokyo jail where it was warmer. 

6. High Security Prison

High Security Prison For yoshie shiratori

His previous stays severely harmed him, but his request was denied. He was instead sent to Hokkaido’s notorious Abashiri Jail, the country’s northernmost prison. No one has ever managed to escape from this freezing hellhole. At Abashiri, the winter of 1943 was brutal and the temperature in the cells was below zero. When convicts received their jail food, miso soup and soy sauce frequently froze. He felt the paralyzing sting of cold air almost immediately as he was thrown into an open cage in summer clothing in this weather. Shiratori stood up angry and stubborn, saying he would escape from Abashiri Prison as he always does, and they could not stop him. According to him, placing handcuffs on him would be useless since he would always find a way to get out of them. He would probably do this by lockpicking, then by some other means.

The guard was shocked when he started to untie himself from the shackles. This is not Shiratori’s only exceptional talent. As well as his remarkable climbing ability, he possessed nearly superhuman strength. 

He could have physically broken free from the cuffs at Akita Prison if he hadn’t had to put them back on. Although this was impressive, laying his cards on the table like that wasn’t so clever since the guards were already creating an escape profile for him. They knew he could crack locks, climb like a lizard, and now possess near-superhuman strength. Therefore, they set out to create an escape-proof cage that would be Shiratori-proof. Here is what they came up with.

7.New Prison Set-Up For Shiratori

prison setup

In the newly constructed cell, fittings with a reduced possibility of rot were used. Even with the bars removed, any gaps made smaller than his body prevented him from passing through. Iron shackles fastened behind his back and leg restraints made him unable to stand. The cuffs each weighed 20 kg, lacked a keyhole, and were therefore impossible to pick. The only way to get rid of them was for two metalwork professionals to come every few weeks and remove them in two hours. At that time he could only take a bath. 

heavy weighted cuffs

After being chained and unable to move for weeks, his cuff wounds had become infected with maggots. In addition, it was still only the beginning of winter, despite how cold it had already been. He would lose all his strength in the coming cold. Yet the food rations were halved even though he was already weak. That was the end of it. Even Shiratori could not handle this. He was forced to grovel like a dog every day as the guards smuggled his food through. His leg shackles made every movement uncomfortable, including sleeping. Life at Abashiri Prison was a living hell there was no doubt about that. Let’s move forward. Shiratori had made it through the winter, and spring was on its way. He appeared to be regaining his strength.

8.Next Move Of Yoshie

planning of shiratori

No progress had been made. Then one night in August, a guard was doing paperwork in the office when he heard movement on the roof. He didn’t know what it was, but he decided to stop and check on the prisoners. Peering into Shiratori’s unbreakable cell, he was astonished. Both the mattress and the jail uniforms had been neatly folded. On the side were handcuffs and leg cuffs weighing 20 kg. Shiratori was nowhere to be found. He kept his promise to the guards. Despite the search party’s efforts, it appeared that he had actually vanished despite the alarm going off right away. How did this happen?

9.Master-Class Plan Of The Genius

master plan

How did he escape Abashiri Prison, which was like a fortress? The preparations had begun six months before. At the moment, he lacked the strength and stamina to make an escape. Time and patience were on his side. Each day, the guards would sneak his food past him. In spite of his best efforts to eat his meals off the floor, he always managed to save a small bowl of miso soup in the corner. Every night, he would stumble awkwardly to the inspection window and spray some on the steel frame. He would also put some on his handcuffs and leg shackles. He intended for the miso soup’s salt content to oxidize the screws and nuts, causing them to dissolve and fall off. Rusting through the iron was successful after a month, and the first screw could be removed. I used the first screwdriver to loosen other screws and bolts over the next few months. 

His shackles and leg cuffs, as well as the steel frame of the inspection window, were all removed before the end of the spring. But there was a problem. The guards took the precaution of not letting him pass through the entrance because it was too small for him. They did not take into account Shiratori’s fourth talent, which allows him to dislocate his joints. Shiratori could now glide through the opening like a caterpillar. Due to his skill set, he is definitely an honorary member of the X-Men. He escaped by climbing through a damaged window in the roof. In all, Shiratori had escaped from three jails, including Abashiri Prison, where he was the only one to have escaped. Congratulations on avoiding detection, but this was in northern Hokkaido. He could only have gone to the frozen snow-covered mountains. The jail guards thought they had the last laugh because if the cold didn’t kill him, the mountain bears would.

10.World-War 2

world war 2

Shiratori’s wife remained hopeful despite the odds. Even if he were alive, she knew he couldn’t return back to his family because the authorities would be following him all the time. Because of this, she secretly hoped Japan would lose the war, since this would enable the US to take over the country and everyone would forget about her husband. However, her wish came true a year later, in August 1945. (bombs explode) The United States had taken over the nation’s prison system and were making significant changes. In addition, it appeared that the search for Yoshie Shiratori had been suspended. 

Despite this, the question of where he was and whether he was alive remained unanswered. He was still active and living a lonely existence. In the Hokkaido countryside, he found an abandoned mine and settled there. Nuts and berries, wild rabbits, and raccoons were his diet. The bear even taught him how to collect crabs from a river by watching him. Life was good.

11. An Unlucky Incident

american bombing japan

After two years of isolation, he eventually made his way down the mountain to a village nearby. He was shocked by what he found. The village was filled with English-language signs. Flags and posters honoring the war effort were no longer visible. Even more horrifyingly, young Japanese girls were seen holding hands with American soldiers. What was going on? A newspaper had been set aside, so he grabbed it and flipped through the pages. He learned of Hiroshima and Nagasaki only then. He was shocked that Japan had surrendered the previous year.

During the next 50 days, he traveled south of Abashiri until he reached Sapporo. He was starving by this time. As a result, he reached out and picked up a juicy ripe tomato from a neighboring field, which turned out to be a huge mistake. He was mistook by a farmer for a well-known local thief, resulting in a fight in which the farmer’s stomach was stabbed with a blade. The farmer bled out and died. Yoshie Shiratori was arrested for the crime, but not before the authorities discovered that they were holding the famous artist. In spite of his self-defense claims, the Sapporo District Court sentenced him to death for his escapes and murder of the farmer.

12. Back To Reality

wife of yoshie shiratori

He was sentenced to death in 1947 and transported to Sapporo Prison. Six armed guards were assigned to watch over him 24 hours a day to ensure he did not flee while on death row this time. The cell had been renovated from Abashiri Prison, with reinforced doors, ceilings, bars, and windows. Based on the Abashiri escape, all openings were made smaller than the size of his head, not just his body. He might be able to dislocate his joints, but he cannot dislocate his skull.

Six guards were so confident in themselves that they didn’t bother handcuffing him. Shiratori was aging and the chances of him fleeing were dwindling. He knew there was nothing he could do as his execution approached. As he looked up, they could sense the despair in his eyes as he waited for an escape plan that would never occur. Even so, they checked his room every night while he took a bath at the bathhouse, inspecting the roof ceiling and any other holes. Winter was approaching, further weakening him. Despite the guards’ demands, he grew increasingly dejected and refused to get out of bed.

13.The Final Escape

thee final escape

A long time passed before the guards had enough and stepped inside the cell to discipline him one morning. As soon as they flipped over the covers, he was gone. This was not possible. How did he do it? When he was initially placed under 24-hour surveillance, six armed guards were assigned to his watch. In fact, he habituated them to look up and keep looking up from the start not only because his previous escape had involved climbing through ceilings but also because of his very intentional habit of looking up constantly to figure out an escape plan. They had no idea it was all a deception and that he already owned one. But it would happen just as they weren’t expecting it to. Authorities were so worried about his escape through a window or skylight that they did not strengthen the bottom. 

The easiest and simplest way out was to remove the bolted floorboards, which wasn’t easy. Yet, he’d done it before and dug his way to freedom by using miscellaneous utensils and his miso soup dish. It took him nearly a month to complete. Because the guards didn’t suspect him and the floorboard panels were placed back in place every night after digging, he was able to keep his actions hidden. Even at night, six guards kept a close watch on him. With the hole continuously positioned underneath the mattress and cover, nothing looked unusual. Gradually, we became accustomed to resisting the guard’s commands to wake up. As a reference to his first jailbreak in Aomori, he hid a pile of loose floorboards underneath the covers. His use of floorboards under the surface to fool them was a reference to his first jailbreak in Aomori. He had escaped from prison four times now.

14.One Last Time

One Last Time

It was a game for young men now that he was in his forties. A police officer sat by his side for a cigarette when he stopped in the Kotoni suburb of Sapporo to relax while running from the guards. Despite not knowing who Shiratori was, he started a conversation with him. Naturally, Shiratori was concerned about his presence and tried to keep his calm while trying to figure out how to escape the situation without appearing suspicious. It was something Shiratori had not expected the cop to do. The cop offered Shiratori a cigarette. Shiratori was stunned. At the time, cigarettes were considered a luxury item in Japan. The fact that they gave it to him out of the goodness of their hearts brought tears to his eyes.

Furthermore, he had been beaten and mistreated by law enforcement personnel all his life, even the chief guard Kobayashi turning his back on him. Here was an officer who treated him with kindness, respect, and without discrimination. Shiratori couldn’t help but tell the officer that he had escaped from Sapporo Prison last year while he smoked the cigarette. Throughout his life, he had gotten out of jail four times. He felt strangely relieved to get everything off his chest, and he was even prepared for the consequences. After the Kobayashi incident, he vowed to never trust another law enforcement officer. A stranger’s cigarette, however, was enough to break him.

Shiratori was detained once again, but the Sapporo High Court sided with him. In addition, some of his previous claims such as admitting the farmer’s death as a justified case of self-defense were also accepted. Despite the mistreatment he may have received, they note that he did not kill or hurt a single guard during his four jail escapes. At the end of the hearing, the High Court overturned his death sentence and instead sentenced him only to 20 years in prison. Also, they agreed to his request that he be transferred to a Tokyo prison with warmer weather. He was getting exactly what he wanted. He was sent to Fuchu Prison in Tokyo, where he was treated well for the first time. This was an unusual experience. 

15.Yoshie Shiratori Cause Of Death

He returned to Aomori County more than a decade later to reunite with his daughter and tell her about his life. Yoshie continued to live for another decade after that, working odd jobs to make ends meet. In 1979, he died as a result of a heart attack. After his death, his ashes were cared for by a woman who had previously cared for him in the area. His ashes are supposed to be buried in a tomb overlooking Mt. Fuji.

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