Kojimachi monolith by Norihiko Minoda

Friday, May 11, 2012

Kojimachi, just to the west of the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, is one of Tokyo's business districts - for mainly medium-sized businesses, and also with quite a few well-known restaurants. Being just north of the political center of Japan, Nagatacho, Kojimachi also has some political associations, most notably with the House of Councillors Quarters, where members of the House of Councillors from out of Tokyo stay.

Not far from the House of Councillors' Quarters, on a sloping street in front of the Kioicho Building in Kojimachi, is a huge sculpture by the Japanese sculptor Norihiko Minoda, called, very blandly, Commencement and Peace. Created in 1989, Commencement and Peace won the 5th Hongo Shin Memorial Prize, an annual prize held in honor of the late Japanese sculptor, Shin Hongo (1905-1980).

In general, Japan is not the place for sculpture. Japanese sculpture tends to be stolid, unimaginative and often plain ugly. However, there are some happy exceptions, and Commencement and Peace can be considered one of them.

From a distance, Commencement and Peace is grand and imposing, and suggestive of classic heroic figure statuary, stimulating the imagination with its blend of the sinuous and the multi-faceted angular. Up close it gathers extra power with its huge spherical base, out of which grows a great gnarled, knobbly protuberance, making for a distinctly phallic impression.

In the next few weeks we are going to look at more sculptures worth blogging around Tokyo. Stay tuned for more great Japanese sculpture.

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