小栗上野介(東善寺)     朝倉文夫の彫刻作品二つと小栗上野介胸像物語
Kozukenosuke Oguri (Tozenji Temple) Two sculptures by Asakura Fumio and the story of Kozukenosuke Oguri's bust

高崎市倉渕町に ―
The story of Kozukenosuke Oguri's bust
Two sculptures by Fumio Asakura

in Kurabuchi Town, Takasaki City


Two works by Fumio Asakura, considered one of Japan's leading sculptors, are located in Kurafuchi-town, Takasaki City. One is a standing statue of Otosuke Isomura, founder of Isomura Sangyo Co., and the other is a bust of Kozukenosuke Oguri, donated from Yokosuka City to Tozenji Temple.

Kozukenosuke Oguri Bust Story

朝倉文夫制作  高崎市倉渕町権田 東善寺境内
Sculptured by Fumio Asakura Located within the precincts of Tozenji Temple, Gonda, Kurabuchi town, Takasaki City

     【はじめ横須賀市で】 [In Yokosuka City at the beginning]




In September 1915, the 50th anniversary of the Yokosuka Naval Arsenal was celebrated with a speech by a representative of Shigenobu Okuma, the Prime Minister of Japan at the time, who said, "Kozukenosuke Oguri overcame many difficulties to start construction..." Then, the pamphlets "The Origin of the Yokosuka Naval Arsenal and the Outline of Its Development" and "The Last Days of Kozukenosuke Oguri" were distributed, revealing the achievements of François Léonce Verny and Kozukenosuke Oguri and the process of Oguri's murder by the Western forces.

This led to calls among the workers at the naval arsenal for the erection of busts to commemorate the hardships and achievements of the French and Japanese engineers at the end of the Edo period, and a citywide campaign was launched to raise funds for the construction of busts of Chief Engineer, François Léonce Verny, on behalf of the French and Kozukenosuke Oguri on behalf of the Japanese. A donation from Empress Teimei was also received. Since the West forces had killed Kozukenosuke Tadamasa Oguri, it is likely that the government of the time could not donate in the name of the emperor or the government.

Reference: "The Last Days of Kozukenosuke Oguri" was written by Yoshitaro (Teishunro) Tsukagoshi, a writer from Iwakori Districti, Kurabuchi Town. Tsukagoshi also started the publication of "Tokyo City History" at the request of Yukio Ozaki, which is still being published even after his death.

右:胸像前の袴姿が小栗又一 左へ4人目が朝倉文夫(ヒゲ)
The Unveiling Ceremony    
Right side of the picture: A man wearing hakama in front of the bust is Mataichi Oguri.
A man with beard, the fourth to the left from Oguri, is Fumio Asakura.
Left side of the picture: The second person from the left in the second row in front of the bust of Verny is French Ambassador Paul Claudel white sleeves.

    【胸像建立】[Erection of the Bust]


In September 1922, a bust unveiling ceremony was held in Yokosuka City, attended by the sculptor Fumio Asakura, Mataichi Oguri (the grandson of Kozukenosuke), Moritomi Saegusa (an elder brother of Ayako Okuma, wife of Shigenobu Okuma), and city and navy officials. A flag procession was held during the day, and at night there were a number of lively parades and entertainment.

【以後、市では毎年お祭り】[Since then, Yokosuka has held a festival every year.]


The ceremony was the impetus for Yokosuka City to hold a festival every year. The image above left is a scene from the festival in 1935, in which the papier-mache samurai who looks like a big Buddha on a cart is said to be Kozukenosuke Oguri. Of course, this is not the work of Fumio Asakura, but it is fun to think of it as a precursor to the modern-day "Ogrin," a Samurai figure in the photo on the right.

【胸像受難と戦後の再建】 [The Bust Recovery and Postwar Rebuilding]



During World War II, iron was in short supply in Japan, and the government ordered temples and shrines across the country to make offerings of bells, iron, copperware, bridge parapets, and even household iron kettles, including busts of Oguri and Verny. Even in September 1859, the shogunate forbade temples and shrines nationwide from manufacturing new copper and iron Buddhist statues and implements. Japan had always been a country where iron was scarce.

The Yokosuka city had instead made and installed cement statues of Kozukenosuke Oguri and Verney, but after the war's end, new statues of Kozukenosuke Oguri and Verney were made by Haruji Naito, a professor at Tokyo University of the Arts, and installed in Rinkai Park (now Verney Park) on the opposite shore of the dock. On September 27, 1952 (84 years after Oguri's death), an unveiling ceremony was held.
The picture below is a commemorative photo of the ceremony, attened by Tadato and Yoko Oguri, Oguri's great-grandchildren, and people related to Kurata and Ubuchi villages.


Yoko Oguri, in the middle, was well known for her mouth, which looked just like that of Kozukenosuke Oguri. To her right is her brother, Tadato (in school uniform).

     【市から村へ】  [City to Village]


At the urging of Shoken Murakami, former chief priest of Tozenji Temple, the removed cement statue of Oguri was donated by Yokosuka City to Kurata Village (later Kurabuchi Village) and placed in front of the grave of Kozukenosuke Oguri whithin the precincts of Tozenji Temple. It is the bust we see in the Tozenji Temple precincts today. Two years later, a statue of Joun Kurimoto, an ally of Kozukenosuke Oguri, was erected and donated to Tozenji Temple at the bequest of Sunao Yoshida, former director of the naval architecture bureau. The two statues stand side by side, as if they are talking about the past.


Statue of Otosuke Isomura

(おおだいら)地内 磯村産業株式会社所有地

It is located in the Ohdaira area, Iwakori district, Kurabuchi Town and owned by Isomura Sangyo Co.
Please ask permission from Isomura Sangyo and be guided by a local resident when visiting the site.
It is a difficult place to find in the deep mountains.

「英偉なる識見を以て常に我邦実業界に先駆し寛仁よく士を遇した人物の生誕百年を記念し有志相謀ってここにその像を建て風姿を将来に伝える 翁願わくは永く上州の緑に憩ひ国家と子孫の歩みを見守られんことを 昭和41年4月除幕 制作者 朝倉文夫  磯村音介翁顕彰会 」

The following words are inscribed on the base of the statue:
"In commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the birth of Otosuke Isomura, a pioneer in the business world of Japan and a man of great insight, we have erected a statue of him here, with the cooperation of volunteers, so that his image may be handed down to future generations. May he rest in the greenery of Joshu (now Gunma Prefecture) and watch over the progress of the nation and its descendants for many years to come. 
Unvailing Ceremony in April, 1966 (Showa 41)  Sculputured by Fumio Asakura   Otosuke Isomura Memorial Association"

Isomura Sangyo Co. has owned forests in the Tsunoochiyama mountain range since 1907, and has been engaged in a wide range of forestry businesses. Even in the current lumber recession, caretakers and work teams are protecting the precious Karasugawa River water source mountains by managing the water source protection forest and general forests from their base in Ohdaira. When I visited the area in late autumn, few remaining maple trees were bright red. Sculpture enthusiasts may wonder why it is located in such a mountainous area, but it seems to be a fitting place for the wish of the descendants to "rest in the greenery of Joshu for a long time."






朝倉彫塑館:朝倉文夫の作品を収蔵する 日暮里駅下車です
 Related Pages

The theory that the Yokosuka ironworks were built with borrowed money: It was wrongly alleged by a writer who misread the historical materials.
Falsely accued Oguri - he used Shikoku and Ezo as collateral: A baseless theory in the turmoil of the late Edo period

Yokosuka shipyard, "House for sale with a storehouse"
The bricks of Yokosuka Shipyard: Bricks made in Yokosuka, which we could finally get.
Advocacy of forest protection and cultivation: Shipbuilding requires a lot of wood...

Chief Engineer Francois-Leonce Verney: Yokosuka City Website (link)
Reading the "Detailed Drawing of Yokosuka": Yokosuka with advanced facilities of modern industry was crowded with visitors.
Kaishu Katsu's "500 Year Navy Theory": The authenticity of "Kaishu's Diary" wavers.
General Togo's Acknowledgement: Victory in the Battle of the Sea of Japan against Russia was thanks to Mr. Oguri...
Structural reforms at the end of the Edo period: Kozukenosuke Oguri brought a screw as a souvenir.

Dutch Steam Hammer (link)
Latest Aircraft Carriers and Docks at the End of Edo Period: Tour of the former Yokosuka Shipyard
Yokosuka Shipyard "Japan-U.S. Friendship Base History Tour" (link)
Tomioka Silk Mill: Exciting Exploration of Technology (link)
Tomioka Silk Mill to a World Heritage Site: The Mill is now on the World Heritage Tentative List and is one step closer to becoming a World Heritage Site. (link)

Words of Kozukenosuke Oguri #3: "The fate of the Shogunate, the fate of Japan" by Kozukenosuke Oguri

The original statue of Joun Kurimoto is on Mikurajima island.
Asakura Museam of Sculpture
: It houses the works of Fumio Asakura. JR's Nippori Station is closest to the museum.
Fumio Asakura Museam of Sculpture: A memorial museum in Asaji Town, Oita Prefecture, where he was born.