Yesterday I went to Maruyama Park in Kyoto and watched the cleaning of the Sakamoto Ryoma and Nakaoka Shintaro statue. The organizers of the “cleaning event” were the Kyoto Kochi Kenjin-kai (a group of Kyoto residents born in Kochi Prefecture – Japan amazes me sometimes. I wonder if there is group for say, Newcastle-born Liverpool residents?). I was hoping to be able to lend a hand (I’d even taken some rubber gloves, just in case). I was hoping I could get those involved to help me clean the small statue of Nakai Hiromu that also stands in the park. The scale of things however, totally stunned me and I felt like I couldn’t ask. There was a huge team of people and they had brought all sorts of cleaning apparatus. They even had a huge yellow truck with a lift on the back to carry people up so that they could ‘shampoo’ Ryoma and Shintaro’s heads!
Sakamoto Ryoma and Nakaoka Shintaro get a wash
When I got there, I was a little early and “Ryoma” and “Oryo” from the Kyoto Ryoma Club (who had invited me) had not arrived yet, so I didn’t know anybody there. I’m a bit shy and didn’t like to butt in, so I went off to see the statue of Nakai Hiromu while I waited for Ryoma and Oryo to show up. I’m glad I did too, because it was in a terrible state: covered in bird droppings with mold growing up the side of the plinth; there was even a bit of the cement missing where the statue is attached to the plinth. Suffice to say, the statue is in a real mess. Something really has to be done about it! I really have to do something about it….. Nakai Hiromu is not from Kochi Prefecture, so I can’t really ask the Kyoto Kochi Kenjin-kai, I guess. I wonder if there is a Kyoto Kagoshima Kenjin-kai, and would they be interested? Nakai is, afterall, from Kagoshima. But, he did abandon his domain and nobody in Kagoshima really knows who Nakai is. There are many statues of famous Satsuma samurai in Kagoshima city, but Nakai is not among them. Would anybody from Kagoshima be interested in cleaning the statue at Maruyama Park when they don’t even have one in Kagoshima? Ryoma and Shintaro have thousands upon thousands of fans in Japan and all over the world. People go to visit their graves at Gokoku Shrine in Kyoto everyday. How many people even know where Nakai Hiromu’s grave is? How many people even know who Nakai Hiromu is? The scale is quite different. The statue of Nakai wouldn’t need a huge team of people to clean it though; it’s not a big thing. Two or three would be enough, I guess. I’ll have to see if I can’t arrange something…
Nakai Hiromu’s statue is looking a little worse for wear
Cement missing on one side of the Nakai statue
One side of the plinth is badly covered in mould
The statue that currently stands in Maruyama Park is not the original. The original seems to have been removed some time around the Second World War; no doubt the metal was used for the war effort. The statue that currently stands was erected in 1964 by Hiromu’s descendents, Nakai Kise and Nakai Hiroko. It is a terrible waste to let the statue fall to ruin, so I will see what can be done about it. I shall keep you posted.