Osaka:‘Barbarian’ Statue Now Has a Moniker; Statue Has Stood on Bridge for More Than 30 Years

The Yomiuri Shimbun
The statue of a man now nicknamed Hashinoue Porutonosuke looks out from the Nambanbashi bridge in Sakai, Osaka Prefecture, from which ribbons inscribed with wishes sway 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 moniker.

Since the statue looks like 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 standing on the Nambanbashi bridge for more than 30 years.

The moniker given to the statue is Hashinoue Porutonosuke. Hashinoue means “on the bridge” and Porutonosuke is a coinage of the Japanese pronunciation of Portugal for short and a traditional name 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 nonprofit organization.

The statue received not only the moniker but also a story and a video about his life. The organization hopes the whole 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 ashore in Sakai after being shipwrecked and losing his memory. A local girl rescues him and gives him the name 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 mantle and wraps it around her wrist.

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

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