Pigtails has already posted two articles about Japanese public sculpture. You can read the post about The Little Girl With Red Shoes On, and Beatrice. Many other statues of girls are in public places in Japan. It seems to me that there is a greater interest in Japan for young girl art than in most countries. Note the number of Japanese artists listed in the ‘Pipeline’ on Pigtails in Paint. My subjective impression, acquired from image searches, is that the percentage of public statues that feature young girls is greater in Japan than in other countries. Many of these sculptures can be seen on the internet with information about where the statue is located, but no other information about the statue. This article will briefly look at ten Japanese public sculptures.
The first statue group is one of the two in this article whose artist is known to me. It is Love, Family of Five, a collaboration of three artists: Hiroshi Takahashi,Yasushi Horikawa,and Minoru Furushima. Love, Family of Five is in Hisaya Odori Park in the city of Nagoya. Many statues of nude women are in the park, but as far as I know, Love, Family of Five is the only one with young girls.
The next statue is in the moat at Sunpu Castle, Shizuoka City. The military base at Sunpu Castle closed in 1949, and the castle was converted to a tourist attraction. I could not find the name of the artist who created this statue. The date is also unknown, but is probably after 1949. Two things about this statue of a girl with a hand puppet are unusual. First, the figure is cut off at mid-thigh. Second, the puppet is painted, but the girl is not.
The next statue is simply titled Girl. One edition of this statue is outside the Ebetsu City Waterworks Government Building. Another is at the Yokohama train station east exit. If the Japanese like a sculpture, it is common to have multiple copies on public display in different places. The artist is Churyo Sato, one of the greatest 20th century Japanese sculptors. Sato began his career as an artist in 1934, and continued working until his death in 2011 at age 98. Girl has a simple pose; the aesthetic appeal is primarily the natural beauty of the model. Look closely and you will notice something peculiar. From the front Girl may at first appear to be nude, but is actually wearing a close-fitting leotard. From the back, she definitely seems to be nude.
Setsuko at Manchidani Cemetery in Nishinomiya City is the strangest girl statue in Japan. Many believe that it is haunted. The statue is based on the character Setsuko from the 1988 animated movie Grave of the Fireflies. The movie tells the story of a brother and sister in the final months of World War II. Setsuko dies in the movie, which has been acclaimed as one of the most persuasive anti-war movies. After this statue was made, weird stories began to circulate about it. It was said that a boy broke an ear from the rabbit next to the girl, and afterwards the boy broke his leg. Mysterious lights have been rumored to flicker around Setsuko at night.
Setsuko, like many girls in Japanese anime, wears a short skirt. This Japanese vogue for miniskirts is noticeable in Japanese statuary as well as in cartoons. This is shown in the next four statues. Green Wind stands near the Sumida river in Tokyo. Another copy of Green Wind can be seen near the ticket gate at Shinjo Station. I was not able to track down the name of the sculptor or the date for Green Wind, or for the next statue, Eternal Girl. The large characters on the base of the statue are the title, Eternal Girl. The smaller characters below may be the name of the sculptor, but I was not able to read them. Eternal Girl is in the Chiyoda section of Tokyo.
A statue of a girl in Iwamizawa Central Park on the island of Hokkaido, the northernmost of Japan’s main islands, is shown next. I do not know the name of the statue, or the name of the sculptor. Several photos of the statue are online, but apparently the title and artist are not considered important enough to mention. Standing Girl is a title I made for the captions. The title for the following statue, of a girl playing a flute, was also not given on line, but it can be read on the base of the statue. According to Google Translate, 人間 means “human” or “human being”. It is an accurate title, but very general. Human is near Nusamai Bridge, Kushiro City, Japan.
The Girl Scout Statue in Yamashita Park, Yokohama is a grouping of three girl scouts intended to symbolize the friendship between the Girl Scouts of Japan and United States of America. It is near The Little Girl With Red Shoes statue. Eleven-year-old American Girl Scout Libby Watson and seventeen-year-old Japanese Girl Scout Hiroko Tanaka were the models for the two girls saluting and shaking hands. Audrea Cox was the model for the younger girl near them.
The last sculpture in this post is in a public park in Tokyo. Pictures of the statue are available online, but I have not been able to discover the name of the statue or of the sculptor. Statements have been made in Japanese forums that the statue is not really suitable for display around children because of the detailed representation of the girl’s vulva.
I must say I particularly like the flute playing girl. She is not wearing any panties is she? If someone has seen the statue close up I’d love to know.
I haven’t seen the statue in person, so I cannot answer your question. Thanks for the comment.
We need more beauty like this everywhere ᴖᴥᴖ
Information on The Girl Scout Statue is sparse. A few sources claim that there’s an engraving that says “やくそく” or “promise”, which would make this the official title of the piece. The sources that are available attribute the piece to a sculptor named 加藤顕清 or Katō Kensei. Trouble is, there’s no mention of the piece on the artist’s Wiki page. The most damning evidence, though, is a document published by the official Japanese Girls Scout organization of a so-called “GS handshake project” in 2014, a plan for the 2 models to shake hands at Yamashita park. The document names the artist as the aforementioned Katō Kensei.
Since there is only 1 reference for the sculpture of the girl at the Sunpu Castle moat, I’m not 100% confident that this is the correct information:
Title: 指人形 or Finger Puppet (1985)
Sculptor: 細谷泰滋 or Yasuhige Hosoya
Thank you much for your research and comment.
It is strange, though, to say “damning evidence”. That phrase actually refers to evidence that proves somebody is guilty of some wrongdoing.
I understood him to mean undeniable evidence. I agree with you on the strict meaning of “damning evidence”, but we should recognize that many readers do not use English as their first language. I am gratified that these readers offer important information, even though they must do it in what to them is a foreign language.
For clarification, it took me a few frustrating hours of looking through Japanese blogs with hardly a hint of who made the piece. So I felt a wave of relief when I finally stumbled upon undeniable evidence of the artist on an official document by the Japanese branch of Girl Scouts.
I also thought about rephrasing it after typing it out, but it just felt right at the moment… Like an attorney uncovering proof after running into a series of red-herrings.
The Eternal Girl is made by 鈴木清貴 or Kiyotaka Suzuki. A Japanese blogger posted a clear image of the plate revealing the name of the artist. I could not find the date of installation for this particular piece.
Moko-san, thank you for this excellent post. I wish you would have provided more detailed locations for some of the statues, though. If you know it, could you please tell me the name of the park where the last statue (“Nude Girl”) is located?
I’m glad you like it. Unfortunately, I found out about that statue from the KJCLUB.com board. They did not give a precise location, and referenced utsuandasdays.blog.fc2.com/ as their source of information. I cannot access this blog, it seems to no longer be active.
Pretty sure the last one is not in Tokyo. It’s listed on the Takamatsu City website, which is in Kagawa Prefecture. It’s actually a two-piece with another girl on the other side.
The piece is called 女の子二人 or Two Girls and the artist is listed as 阿部誠一 or Seiichi Abe, who has studied under Churyo Sato. Installed in 1987 and 1988 for each girls, installed by Takamatsu Yashima Lions Club to commemorate their 25 years anniversary.
Thank you very much for this information and for the links! I was hoping somebody would know more about some of this art. Your comments and link are very useful.
I figured you didn’t know the precise location as you would have otherwise put it in the post. Thank you in any case for making me discover all these great sculptures.
By the way, I found the Green Wind statue to be very visually pleasing due to the pose and attire of the girl, and the fact that it’s looking to the river as if greeting someone in the distance. I had to find out more about it so I did some digging. It looks like it is located in a park called 佃公園 (Tsukuda Park), as per the article on this page: https://mutar.exblog.jp/15341454/
Thank you much for the additional information! As you have probably noticed, another reader has provided the location of the “Nude Girl” statue. I like the Green Wind statue too, although I do not have an opportunity to visit it.