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A Topography of Modern Japanese Bronze Statuary

Personality Cult in Modern Japan


"Personenkult im Modernen Japan: Repräsentationen der Nation im Öffentlichen Raum"


Zusammenfassung und Links

Abstract and links to visual material and sources

Representations of the Nation in Public Space in Meiji Japan (Abstract)
The foundation of the modern Japanese nation-state after the Meiji Restoration of 1868 demanded new methods for achieving social integration, creating a collective identity, and, ultimately, for securing the loyalty of citizens to the new central government. In previous research, the Tenno has been considered of paramount importance as a symbol of national unity and the central means of securing "loyalty and patriotism" (chūkun aikoku). However, a close look at the utilization of public space--here taken literally as squares, parks, roads etc.--from the late Meiji era onwards reveals that the Tenno was only seldom utilized as a visual symbol. After his tours of the country in the 1870s and 1880s, he is rarely seen in person; his official photographs are kept mostly invisible behind curtains and visual representations of the Tenno are hard to find. How was the visual vacuum created by the absence of the Tenno in the public sphere compensated for?
Public space is regularly utilized by nation-states as an arena where concepts of "national identity" and national consciousness can be inculcated. In many Western and Asian nation-states, statues of founding figures and political leaders are commonplace. In many states--not only in authoritarian regimes with a strong personality cult--the figure most commonly depicted is the head of state or the monarch, in the form of statues but also through other visual means such as coins, bills, postcards, and reliefs. This paper addresses the question of how the medium of the (bronze) statue has been utilized in Japan to promote national integration since the erection in 1880 of the first (non-religious) bronze statue in Japan. Who took the initiative in creating this variant of "the politics of memory"? How can we categorize the bronze statues erected in the years that followed? What was the reaction of the population and the press? Was there a central political driving force behind the erection of bronze statues or was the process rather decentralized?

- Der Tenno - präsent, aber unsichtbar; The Tenno - present, but invisible (under construction)

- Die erste Statue im öffentlichen Raum in Japan: Yamato Takeru (im folgenden Album finden sich u.a. Darstellungen der Enthüllungszeremonie der Statue aus dem Jahr 1880). The first statue in public space in Japan: Yamato Takeru in Kanazawa, 1880 (see the first pictures of the photo album for a contemporary illustration of the unveiling ceremony in 1880).

- Artikel über den Bronzestatuen-Bau in Japan aus der "Zeitschrift für Architektur" (Kenchiku Zasshi ), 1908. Article on bronze statue building from Kenchiku Zasshi (Journal for Architecture, 1908).

- Photos von historischen und Aktuellen Statuen in Japan; photos of Japanese bronze statues, historic and contemporary. (incl. historischer und aktueller Photos der ältesten Bronzestatue Japans von Yamato Takeru, erbaut 1880)

- Top Ten der in Form einer Statue im öffentlichen Raum in Japan inszenierten Persönlichkeiten.

- Statistiken (Abb. 2 bis 5)

- Weitere historische Abbildungen der Statuen von Saigo Takamori und Omura Masujiro (im Text Abb. 6 bis 10)

Statuen in Konsum und Werbung- Statuen in Konsum und Werbung (Abb. 10 bis 12) (statues in consumerism and advertisement).

- Bericht über die Enthüllungszeremonie der Statue von Ii Naosuke (1908) (Vorsicht! PDF-Datei mit 5 MB!)

- Dokumente und Photos bzgl. der Statuen der Fürsten der Familie Mouri in Yamaguchi.