Hakkō Ichiu Tower in Miyazaki from the series Scenes of Sacred and Historic Places

Japanese Color Woodblock Print

Hakkō Ichiu Tower in Miyazaki

print 50 from the series

Scenes of Sacred and Historic Places

by Tokuriki Tomikichirō, 1941

Table of Contents for the series Twelve Aspects of Kyoto

IHL Cat. #1663

About This Print

Print number fifty of the fifty print series Scenes of Sacred and Historic Places (Seichi Shiseki Meisho) published by Uchida Woodblock Printing Company in 1941.  It is perhaps the ultimate nationalist print in the series, depicting Hakkō Ichiu Tower in Miyazaki erected in 1940 to commemorate the 2,600th anniversary of the mythical ascension of Japan's first emperor, Jimmu, on 11 February 660 BC.  

Hakkō Ichiu Tower and Japan's 2600th Anniversary (Kigen 2600)

Hakkō ichiu (now named Heiwaidai ("Peace tower") as it looks today.

Source: "Forging Tradition for a Holy War: The 'Hakkō Ichiu' Tower in Miyazaki and Japanese Wartime Ideology," Walter Edwards, appearing in The Journal of Japanese Studies Vol. 29, No. 2 (Summer, 2003), p. 289-324.

"Atop a tableland in the city of Miyazaki stands a stone tower, nearly 37 meters [121 feet] tall, its front face bearing the cryptic motto "hakkō ichiu" [宮崎八紘一宇] in large characters. On its back, another bold inscription gives its date of construction as 'kigen 2,600 nen,' or year 2,600 of the current era. Both inscriptions link the tower to the realm of Japanese myth and, moreover, to the account contained therein of Jimmu, the legendary first emperor credited with founding the Japanese nation.

"Nineteen forty [the year tower was erected] was also the fourth year of warfare stemming from the China Incident of July 1937, a conflict by then already lasting far longer than first anticipated. In the midst of widespread efforts to maintain the country's will to fight, the 2,600th anniversary of Jimmu's achievement was exploited as a source of nationalistic inspiration.

"In explaining the project to the prefectural assembly on December 5, 1938, the governor spelled out this design in the following terms. One aspect [of the plan] is that at the time of the 2,600th anniversary celebrations, the extent of the nation's might, the nation's condition, be written somewhere on it, to show what the population is at the time, how much land there is, what the strength of the nation is, in other words, to show how far the Imperial Virtue has spread ... so that at the 2,700th anniversary, by looking back one hundred years it can be seen ... how far Japan's might as a nation has grown.

"The tower is thus a symbolic statement that the essence of the nation's history is continual expansion; its decoration further stressed that this expansion had a military aspect and that it began from Hyūga. Set at the tower's entrance is a large pair of bronze doors, the work of the same sculptor who designed the monument as a whole, which feature a large bas-relief nearly covering their combined width and depicting Jimmu's departure on his journey east. According to the Nihon shoki account, Jimmu's party sailed from Hyūga up the Inland Sea toward Yamato. In suitable fashion, the image on the tower's doors is that of a fleet of warships, ready to launch forth with banners flying and sails unfurled. Each vessel is manned by rows of soldiers in armor, its gunwales lined with their spears and shields. Expansion was justified by linking military images with symbols of unassailable authority: Shinto worship and the imperial institution. The main portion of the tower is a fusion of images representing warfare and religion, consisting principally of a spear, a shield, and a gohei, the wand of paper streamers used in Shinto ceremony. Spears are depicted in relief on the two faces not bearing inscriptions. Each of the tower's four faces, seen head on, is built to represent a series of five shields, stacked in receding fashion from lowermost to uppermost, giving a stepped contour to the tower's upper reaches. Accordingly, as the eye scans downward from the tower's top, its profile juts out by degrees both right and left in symmetric fashion, a shape intended to resemble a gohei. In explaining this design, Governor Aikawa commented upon the ritual use of this item to purify. Our nation was founded with the spirit of driving away sin and pollution, not only from Japan but from the entire world, and, nurturing these lands, of making them into one house.

"Hakkō ichiu was among the many militaristic slogans soon blackened in school textbooks and banned from the press by GHQ censors. A unit of the occupation arrived in Miyazaki in November 1945, and its commander made it clear that aspects of the tower were 'undesirable.' Specifically cited were the slogan on the front, the plaque on the rear, and a large ceramic statue on the tower's base, made in imitation of a Kofun-period haniwa warrior in full battle dress. These were all removed in January 1946. Taking a hint from the commander's suggestion that they be replaced with more peaceful items, the tower soon came to be referred to as Heiwaidai ("Peace tower"). Miyazaki counted heavily on tourism for its economic recovery in the late 1940s and 1950s, promoting the scenic coastline of a newly created national park south of the city and cultivating an image of the region as a Mecca for honeymooners. The prefecture officially renamed the area around the tower, which had become a regular stop for tour buses since 1950, as Heiwadai Kōen (Peace Plateau Park) in 1957."

The tower continues to generate controversy today as can be seen in the following 2015 story from The Japan Times.

Miyazaki’s controversial Peace Tower
continues to cause unease
MIYAZAKI – A monument in the city of Miyazaki built to glorify Imperial Japan’s occupation of Asian nations and later rededicated as the city’s Peace Tower has been a source of local discomfort for decades.

In 1965, authorities restored an Imperial-era slogan on the 36-meter stone tower, despite opposition from critics who felt it sent the wrong message.

The four-character phrase is “Hakko Ichiu” (Eight Corners of the World Under One Roof). The slogan was used by the Imperial Japanese military as it sought to create “a new world of human fraternity under the Japanese emperor.”

The tower was built in 1940 to commemorate the 2,600th anniversary of the ascension of Emperor Jimmu, the nation’s first emperor.

Made of stones from around the Japanese empire, it was used to rally people’s fighting spirit in World War II but was later scorned as a symbol of that ill-fated venture. It eventually survived as a symbol of peace.

Ikuko Yasuda, 90, was one of many high school girls drafted to help level the ground for the tower’s erection.

A year before the war ended, Yasuda worked at an air base in Miyazaki and saw off many young pilots on kamikaze suicide missions.

“I couldn’t say a word and felt helpless,” Yasuda recalled. “We should call Aug. 15 the anniversary of Japan’s ‘defeat in the war,’ instead of ‘end of the war,’ and recognize with a sense of remorse that the postwar era started from something negative rather than from zero.”

Some people in Miyazaki are baffled by how a symbol of the Imperial invasion of Asia became a symbol of peace.

Keiichiro Saita, 71, set up an amateur research group that for the past quarter of a century has been studying the tower and its history.

Saita agrees with a local history book that says the words Hakko Ichiu were removed from the tower at the request of the U.S. military after the war, and that it was rededicated as a tower “built in the hopes of peace.”

Heiwadai Park was one of the starting points for torch relays for the 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games. With the park drawing attention at a time when the Imperial family was the object of increasing popular interest, the prefectural government accepted a request from the local tourism association to reinscribe Hakko Ichiu on it.

The work was carried out quickly before opposition could crystallize, Saita said. He considers that unfortunate.

The tower bears testimony to Japan’s invasion of Asia as it was built with stone brought from China, Taiwan, Korea and other places under Japan’s control, Saita said. But as there is no signboard in the park to explain the historical background, it cannot be called a “peace tower in the real sense of the term unless the negative part of its history is squarely looked at,” he said.

In the 1960s and 1970s, Miyazaki became a popular destination for newlyweds after Takako Shimazu, the fifth and youngest daughter of Emperor Showa, and her husband Hisanaga Shimazu honeymooned there in 1960.

The tower itself has survived the changing tides of history, Yasuda noted, and as a survivor of conflict it “allows us to pass down memories of the war from generation to generation.”

Vividly remembering the days just before World War II, Yasuda is worried by whether the Abe government’s reinterpretation of the war-renouncing Constitution might lead the nation into war once again. “Japan must never go to war because it is a small country that cannot live by itself,” she said.

The Series - Scenes of Sacred and Historic Places

The print artist Tokuriki and the publisher Unsōdō created two series of prints to mark Kigen 2600, or the 2600th year of Japan's mythical founding as a nation. The first, a paean to Mount Fuji, a sacred site of pilgrimage and worship, titled Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji, harkened back to Hokusai’s famous 1831 series of the same name. The second series, Scenes of Sacred and Historic Places, capitalized on the nationalist ideology that Japan was a divine land, presenting overtly nationalistic landscapes including shrines, temples, castles, places associated with the divine origins of Japan, Meiji era history and samurai

In his commentary on this series, the artist wrote that his devotion to these sites is intended to demonstrate to the people the dignity of the national polity, going on to say that he advocates prints as a means of providing comfort and pleasure to the wholesome citizens of the nation. 

This series was extremely popular with domestic and foreign buyers who purchased one thousand copies within a short time after issuance.1  I imagine that foreign buyers were enchanted by the lovely scenes with much of the import of each print escaping them. In the 1950s, six prints from this series were re-printed under the title The Album of Famous Views of Japan and eight additional prints were re-printed under the title The Eight Views of Japan.  Later printings omit the information in the margin and some position the artist's signature and print title within the image in a different location from the original issue.

For images of all the prints in the series, go to the website of Ross Walker's Ohmi Gallery at http://www.ohmigallery.com/Gallery/Tokuriki/SacredPlaces.htm.

1 Modern Japanese Woodblock Prints - The Early YearsHelen Merritt, University of Hawaii Press, 1998, p. 89.

Margin Annotations of Original Edition (top to bottom) and Print Title Within Image

series title
Seichi Shiseki Meisho
聖地 史蹟 名勝

assigned number of print in series


artist's signature and seal
Tomikichiro kin saku
(respectfully made by Tomikichiro)
followed by oval seal1

Uchida Bijutsu Shoshi

(Uchida Fine Art Shop) followed in seal form by
Fukyo Fukusei
(Reproduction forbidden))
Print Title
(Hakkō ichiu kijū)

1 possibly a reproduction of an old censor's seal

The title of each print appears within the image area along with the artist's signature and seal.  The artist's signature is comprised of the artist's name 富吉郎 (Tomikichirō) either by itself or followed by the single kanji character 作 (saku "made by") or by the character 謹 (kin "respectfully") followed by , as shown below.

Print Details

 IHL Catalog  #1663
 Title  Hakkō Ichiu Tower in Miyazaki
 宮崎八紘一宇基柱 [Hakkō ichiu kijū]
 Series  Scenes of Sacred and Historic Places (also seen translated as "Collected Prints of Sacred, Historic and Scenic Places")
 聖地 史蹟 名勝 Seichi Shiseki Meisho
 Tokuriki Tomikichirō (1902-2000)
富吉郎  Tomikichirō
 Seal  see above -  富 Tomi seal
 Date  September 1941
 Edition  original (first) edition
 Publisher  Uchida Bijutsu Shoten
 Impression  excellent
 Colors  excellent
 Condition  excellent - minor toning
 Genre  shin hanga (new print); fūkeiga
 Miscellaneous  五十 #50 in series
 Format  horizontal ōban
 H x W Paper  11 3/8 x 16 1/2 in. (28.9 x 41.9 cm)
 H x W Image  10 3/8 x 15 (26.4 x 38.1 cm)
 Collections This Print  Penn Libraries, Rare Book & Manuscript Library - Rare Book Collection Call no.: Portfolio  NE1325.T65 A4 1940
 Reference Literature