The map below is of a prefecture called Aomori, the northern most prefecture on the main island of Honshu. I was shocked to find that in 2006 this town, formerly known as Momoishi[百石町], was merged into another town called Shimoda making up the city of Oriase, a site ,by the way, famed for its amazing onsen(s) and wintery landscapes. Last time I was up this far was back in 05'
It is in this newly made up town called Oriase, that is made up of six municipalities, is the site where the famed Statue of Liberty is, the largest in Japan, and second largest in the world. Prior to merging it was in Momoishi, which sadly no longer exist. Sad because so many of these smaller towns are being swallowed up by larger municipalities and so much of the local history of these smaller towns are in jeopardy of being lost and forgotten. The price a country pays for a shrinking population.
Amazingly enough, many of the Japanese I've come across, and I come across many on a daily basis here, have never heard of there being a Statue of Liberty this far up north. The nearest lady liberty is in Tokyo and it dwarfs in size when comparing it with Aomori's Statue of Liberty.
From far off.
There's also an amazing gingko tree nearby that's thousands of years old.
The reason for building this statue was of course to attract tourist. Every year cities receive money from taxes and central government to invest in projects. Most often times cities will invest in geothermal research...i.e drilling for new onsen sources in order to build spas and onsen hotels. Sometimes these cities invest in museums, and so on. Well, the former city of Momoishi decided to build a Statue of Liberty and a park with top notch facilities like playgrounds and other amenities.
Every year during spring people flock to this park to enjoy cherry blossoms and delicious sake while fawning over this replica of lady liberty. It is truly an East meets West affair where even the foreign community, including Misawa Base come out and take part in whatever festivities are being held.
Aomorians are typically more conservative and are not as Westernized as the urbanites of Tokyo. I think Aomorians tolerate foreigners more so than embrace them whereas Tokyoites are arms wide open, so to speak, sort of in a demoralizing kind of way though.
Sometimes a certain balance can be achieved between East and West. Sometimes! This is one of them.