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The Statue of Sherlock Holmes in Japan

On the hundredth anniversary of the publication of the first story of Sherlock Holmes, "A Study in Scarlet", Japanese Sherlockians planned to erect a statue of Sherlock Holmes. The site they selected was at Oiwake in Karuizawa Town, a famous resort. This was chosen to commemorate the work of NOBUHARA Ken, the distinguished translator, who in 1952, after thirty years, completed the first full Japanese version of the sixty stories in the canon. The following year he stayed at a Japanese inn, 'Aburaya', in Oiwake, to make his final revisions, and he became so fascinated by the place that he built his own villa near the inn in 1957. It was there that he corrected his translation for the new edition.

Karuizawa Town offered a small corner of Koushinzuka Park as the site. However, Sherlockians had to struggle to get permission. At first, the authorities in Karuizawa were reluctant to allow any further statues to be erected in the town which already had over thirty statues of famous Japanese literary figures. They were concerned that it would set a precedent and lead to other proposals for statues which they would not then be able to refuse. It was also an exceptional case, as it was to be the statue of a foreigner. Karuizawa is proud of its historical heritage, and the planning committee was worried that the European style of the statue might be out of character and clash with the classical Japanese atmosphere of the town. It was as if a Japanese statue in traditional Japanese dress was being proposed for Stratford-upon-Avon. Several foreign Sherlockians wrote to the Mayor of Karuizawa in support of the idea and eventually permission was given. Five hundred and fifty-eight Japanese Sherlockians and fifteen organisations related to the stories made donations to cover the cost.

The beautiful life-size statue was made by a famous Japanese sculptor, SATOH Yoshinori , and was unveiled at a ceremony on 9th October 1988. One hundred people attended. Thirty-eight Japanese Sherlockians held a parade in Victorian costume, but a display by a fire-and-drum corps of local schoolchildren had to be cancelled because of the illness and mortal sickness of Tenno Showa (Emperor Hirohito).

Thus, we have the world's second public statue of Sherlock Holmes in Japan. It followed the one in Meiringen, and preceded the one in Edinburgh, and the other for which Sherlockians have so long aspired - at Baker Street. Nowadays many travellers visit the Japanese statue. Its existence has now become well-known since it is mentioned in many of the local guide-books for tourists with its photographs. It is not only a statue of a detective, but also an enduring symbol of justice and fairness.

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