JDO Field Trip: Tetsujin 28 Robot Statue

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A 59-ft. robot statue looks over the citizens of earthquake-ravaged Kobe, Japan

When a disaster hits and a community is in shambles, there is nothing left to do but rebuild.

Humans are nothing if not resilient, and in the darkest times, people still manage to crawl out of the wreckage and start again. This is exactly what the people of Kobe did after a ruinous earthquake in 1995, and what better symbol to memorialize the strength of the community and guard against future disaster than a giant Japanese robot?

Tetsujin-28 is a full-scale, 59-ft. statue, dedicated on the 15th anniversary of the Great Hanshin earthquake, a 7.3 tremor that devastated several Japanese cities and killed over 6,400 people. Hardest hit was the Hyogo Prefecture, which suffered a huge percentage of the casualties, and struggled with fires, aftershocks, and power outages for days after the initial shock.

Commemorating the resiliency and strength of the effected communities and standing as a protective figure from further disaster, Tetsujin-28 is a manga character from Mitsuteru Yokoyama's 1956 "Tetsujin 28-go". The widely popular and often-adapted story tells of a robot built to be a military superweapon that, upon the death of his creator, becomes friend and companion to the creator's young son. Together the boy and his robot fight crime and defeat other robots bent on destruction.

Located in Wakamatsu Park, the robot was erected for practical reasons as well. Accompanied by other life-sized characters from popular manga, Tetsujin-28 was created as part of a plan to encourage tourism to a place economically ruined by the earthquake, the city of Kobe. A short walk from Kobe's Shin-Nagata Station, the robot is the most popular statue by far, and is often covered in climbing children who recognize the big metal guy as both a gaurdian and a friend.