“Contrivance of Yasukuni-jinja”, Tokyo, c. 1920.

1920sFolkloreNotable LandmarkReligious
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“Contrivance of Yasukuni zinja“, Tokyo, c. 1920. The Sacred Pond garden of Yasukuni Shrine once included a fountain portraying Kintaro (‘Golden Boy’), the fictional child of superhuman strength from Japanese folklore best known for wrestling a giant koi (carp).

See also:
Yasukuni Shrine at Kudan, Tokyo, c. 1910
Garden of Yasukunijinsha, Tokyo, c. 1910.

con-tri-vance, n. a clever device or object that has been invented for a particular purpose.

“Kintaro (‘Golden Boy’) is a folk hero from Japanese folklore. A child of superhuman strength, he was raised by a yama-uba (‘mountain witch’) on Mount Ashigara. He became friendly with the animals of the mountain. Kintaro later caught Shuten-dōji, the terror of the region around Mount Ōe. He is a popular figure in bunraku and kabuki drama, and it is a custom to put up a Kintaro doll on Boy’s Day in the hope that boys will become equally brave and strong.

“Kintaro is supposedly based on a real person, Sakata Kintoki, who lived during the Heian period and probably came from what is now the city of Minamiashigara, Kanagawa. He served as a retainer for the samurai Minamoto no Yorimitsu and became well known for his abilities as a warrior. As with many larger-than-life individuals, his legend has grown with time.

“Kintaro is an extremely popular figure in Japan, and his image adorns everything from statues to storybooks, anime, manga to action figures. As an image he is characterized with an ono, a haragake apron, and sometimes a tame bear. In many of Kintaro’s pictures, it seems that he is trying to capture a giant black koi. This seems to glorify his strength as he is able to wrestle with such a creature.”


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