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Osaka: ‘Barbaric’ statue now has a nickname; Statue has been on the bridge for more than 30 years

The Yomiuri Shimbun
The statue of a man now called Hashinoue Porutonosuke looks out from the Nambanbashi Bridge in Sakai, Osaka Prefecture, where ribbons with wishes on them wave in the wind.

SAKAI – A statue on a bridge near Nankai-Sakai Station on the Nankai Line in Sakai, Osaka Prefecture has finally been given a nickname.

Because the statue resembles the Portuguese men who came to Sakai around the 16th century, it is called Nambanjin-zo (Statue of the Barbarian from the South). The statue has been on the Nambanbashi Bridge for over 30 years.

The name given to the statue is Hashinoue Porutonosuke. Hashinoue means “on the bridge” and Porutonosuke is an abbreviation of the Japanese pronunciation of Portugal and a traditional suffix for men’s names.

More than 1,000 names were submitted by members of the public in response to a call from a local non-profit organization.

The statue received not only the nickname, but also a story and a video about his life. The organization hopes the entire event will help promote the bridge as a new tourist attraction for the city.

The story created for the statue goes like this: the Portuguese man who became the model for the statue washes up in Sakai after being shipwrecked and losing his memory. A local girl rescues him and names him Porutonosuke. He regains his health and upon leaving Japan promises the girl that he will return for her. He then tears off a piece of his cloak and wraps it around her wrist.

It is hoped that the story will be used to promote the bridge as a tourist attraction to wish safe travels, fulfillment in romantic relationships and safe travels. Apparently ribbons have already been tied to the bridge with wishes such as ‘Let me be good at drawing’ and ‘well-being of the family’.

The 1.9-meter-high statue was erected in 1987 by Nankai Railway Co., which also built the bridge. The statue was then donated to the city of Sakai.

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