Monument to Ice Cream

Monument to Ice Cream, Yokohama, public art

Public Art: Monument To Ice Cream

Also Known As : The Mother and Child of The Sun

Sculptor: © Shin Hongo (1905- 13th Feburary, 1980)

Description: The bronze statue of a seated naked woman bouncing a naked child on her knee was erected in honour of Fusazo Machida, who,  in 1869,  started selling ice cream (aisu-kurin) along with his usual shaved ice.

Date Unveiled: 1976

Funded By : Kanagawa Chapter of Japan Ice Cream Association

Location : The Monument to Ice Cream sculpture is located at the intersection of Bashamichi Tokiwacho, Yokohama, Kanagawa Prefecture 231-0014, Japan.

Acknowledgements: Thank you to Keiko Hamada for kindly providing the photos and information.

Background To Hyousuiten:

When Fusazo Machida traveled to the United States in 1860, on the first Japanese ship to cross the Pacific (Kanrin-Maru) , he tasted for the first time ice cream and instantly fell in love with it.  He thought it so exquisite he wanted to bring the taste back to Japan. In 1869 he opened a shop for shaved ice called Hyousuiten at Bashamichi  (Yokohama).

Along with shaved ice he sold what he thought was called "ice crin". Unfortunately, when he first started selling the ice cream it was so expensive only foreigners would buy it and it would often draw a large crowd. It wasn't long before his "ice crin" became very popular and his business boomed. When US occupation forces arrived after World War II the correct pronuciation was introduced. The statue stands opposite the actual location of his original shop.

Trivia :

Every year on 9th of May free Bashamichi Aisu ( ice cream ) is given away at Bashamichi Yokohama.  It is known as Ice Cream Day.

When sculptor Shin Hongo died in February 1980 he donated his gallery, studio and art works to the City of Sapporo. It is now a museum and sculpture garden.

A Little Bit Of Yokohama History :

Prior to 1858 Japan was closed off to the rest of the world, having a strict isolation policy that limited its trade with foreign countries to virtually zero. Under its Sakoku policy (which means "locking the country") from 1633 until 1853 no foreigner could enter Japan, nor could any Japanese leave the country without the penalty of death. However, there were a few exceptions to the rules with mainly the Dutch and Chinese traders.

After several failed attempts by the US government to broker an open trade agreement with Japan, Commodore Matthew Perry decided to give it a try. On July the 8th, 1853, Perry anchored in Uraga Harbour on a black hulled steam frigate (and several other ships in tow) near Edo, which is now modern Tokyo. The Tokugawa Shogunate (shoguns who ruled during this time) basically told him to go away and try his luck in Nagasaki, the only Japanese port open to foreigners.

Instead of taking their advice, Perry ordered his ships to head towards the capital Edo and position their guns directly at the city of Uraga. Despite numerous requests for them to leave, Perry stood his ground and demanded he be allowed present a letter from US President Millard Fillmore, which basically requested the rights for the US to trade with Japan. Once they agreed to receive the letter, Perry left, promising to return shortly for an answer. Which he did, this time with double the ships and fire power.

Much to everyone's surprise the Shogunate had agreed to all of President Fillmore's demands. On March 31st, 1854 the Convention of Kanagawa (Treaty of Peace and Amity) was signed. The treaty opened the Japanese ports of Shimoda and Hakodate to United States trade and guaranteed the safety of shipwrecked U.S. sailors.

The signing of the treaty would inevitably change Japan and its culture forever.

The opening of the Yokohama Port in 1859 marked the start of an industrial boom in Japan and the westernization of a nation.


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