Gracing the shoreline in Atami, Shizuoka Prefecture, is a statue unique among the many in Japan that celebrate local legends or famous historical figures.

The statue, donated to the hot-spring town by the Rotary Club in 1986, portrays a pivotal scene from “Konjiki Yasha” (“The Golden Demon”), a famous story by Meiji Era author Ozaki Koyo (1868-1903).

In the story, a beautiful young woman named Miya tells her fiance, Kanichi, that she is breaking off their engagement so she can marry a banker’s son who has wooed her with a big diamond ring. Enraged, Kanichi kicks Miya to the ground and vows to forsake humanity. Kanichi goes on to become a cold-hearted moneylender and Miya’s marriage to the rich man does not go well.

“The Golden Demon” first appeared in serial form in the Yomiuri newspaper, where it ran for 5½ years. It was then published as a novel, was later made into a movie and is often performed on stage.

Kazuyuki Unno
Weatherman, 65 (Japanese)

For me, this statue symbolizes Atami. I’m here on a class reunion and coming to see this statue was a must for us. I couldn’t come to Atami and not visit this statue. This scene took place in the Meiji Era but it just goes to show you that you can’t trust women in any age.

Haruna Fukunaga
Cosmetics consultant, 21 (Japanese)

Somebody posted a picture of this on SNS and that’s why I wanted to take a photo here. This statue makes me think that women suffered discrimination in the Meiji Era, but today it might be different — the woman might kick the man.

HR manager, 35 (German)

I think if somebody leaves somebody for another person who is richer, you don’t kick them. It’s not a very nice thing to do. It seems like the people who put that statue up want women to go back into the home and cook. It’s offensive to women.

Junko Oshima
Office worker, 40s (Japanese)

I came to Atami to go sightseeing, and of course I went to see the statue. I know a little about the story; it seems to me the man is a serious type who wanted his woman to follow him. I think there are fewer men like him these days.

Physicist, 34 (German)

It seems like the statue is part of history and they are showing what happened at that time. (Whether it’s appropriate is) a difficult question: If they put the statue up in 1886, not 1986, it would be OK, but I don’t think it’s appropriate as a symbol for a city in this day and age.

Richard A. Tanaka
Volunteer guide, 64 (Japanese)

It’s a good symbol of Atami for sightseers, and as the scene is rather shocking, people know about it even if they don’t know the whole story. There used to be a pine tree that celebrated this scene that people would come to see, but now they come to take pictures here.

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