Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Sherlock in Japan; Gulliver next?

Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman - redefining Sherlock
Sherlock, the Benedict Cumberbatch - Martin Freeman re-interpretation of the classic Arthur Conan Doyle detective stories has proved a massive hit in Japan. So much so that at the moment we're seeing re-runs not only of the nine episodes made to date (come on Sherlock, 2016 is a long way off to wait for the next series!) but also Elementary, the Lucy Liu version as Watson with that other chap (apologies, but that's how my friends refer to him) and additionally multiple non-English language versions of a dapper Basil Rathbone-esque deerstalker variety (one of which is something Eastern European but I'm not absolutely sure where from; possibly Hungarian, definitely not Russian). 

Lucy Liu and "that other bloke" in Elementary
Japan loves a good mystery and all the original stories had been translated by the early 1950's after a thirty year labour of love from the author Nobuhara Ken. He had retreated to the old postal town of Oiwake, a day's walk on the Nakasendo (the ancient road from Kyoto to Tokyo) to the popular resort destination of Karuizawa, itself some three hours train northwest of Tokyo (in the days before the Shinkansen). Nobuhara fell in love with the area and eventually settled in the village, bringing a permanent connection to Sherlock in the process.

And so Sherlockians petitioned the local town of Karuizawa to erect a statue of their hero, something the councillors were at first reluctant to do. Eventually relenting, and accepting the tribute into their midst, in 1988 a life size statue of Sherlock Holmes was finally unveiled in Koshinzuka Park, on the western fringes of Oiwake. And if you go there today you can walk up to the bronze figure and enjoy taking a selfie with him. You'll probably notice the park is more of a field, adorned with obelisks decorated with gorgeous, though unexplained, kanji. However, if you enjoy your old English literature you might be interested to know that although Holmes never made it to Japan, Gulliver actually did on his own travels. But sadly there isn't a statue to him in Japan. At least, not yet....

Koshinzuka Park, Oiwake, the only statue in Japan. A classic.

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