Ninomiya Kinjirō (Sontoku) Statue. - [Urban legends] 二宮金次郎像 (真夜中の金次郎) "Kinjiro at midnight"
• About this Urban Legend:
Statues of the young self-disciplined philosopher, Ninomiya Kinjirō are said to spring to life and wander the school grounds at the stroke of midnight. They’re a common sight at schools across Japan, as such he's a classic topic for the "seven school mysteries."
Kinjiro is said to wander the school grounds at night, (Similar to the legends about Jintai-Mokei) while in most versions of the legend he usually just wanders the school grounds diligently: in some variations of the story it’s said that he will visit the school's library to find new books to read. (in some comical takes, he tries to go into the washroom but fails because his back pack of twigs are too big to fit into the stall.) - In anycase, if you encounter him, he will attack you!!! - There are also stories of him attacking students using a katana. (similar to Tonkaraton.) its often said that the statues eyes glow or will be crying glowing red or blue tears. (Similar to the Music & art room ghosts.) During the day, it's said to be bad luck to count the number of sticks/logs that he's carrying.
• History & early appearances:
In a nutshell: Ninomiya Kinjirō (1787-1856) was an orphaned peasant who combined his time working the land with study, eventually working himself up to a noted agricultural leader, philosopher, moralist and economist, The name "Sontoku" (尊徳) & other many other honours where given to him in later life for his many agricultural & economical accomplishments, unusual to someone of his social origin.
As such, the image of the young man studying while carrying firewood on his back, became an icon of self-discipline & study for students, and something for them to aspire to. At the beginning of the Showa period (1926-1989) statues of him began to appear outside of schools. At one point practically every elementary school in Japan displayed a similar statue.
As of 2016: the number of classic walking kinjiro statues has been decreasing, usually being replaced by newer statues depicting him sitting down. (because reading/walking while using your smartphone is quite dangerous in modern times!)
In closing: the statues have been around for quite a while so its hard to pinpoint an exact origin for this urban legend, however they where probably spread further largely in thanks to him being featured in the gakkou no kaidan book series (1990s) & various movies.
...well, No matter the context, statues sure are creepy at night huh?
• in Pop Culture: The 'walking kinjiro statue' of course appears in Gakkou no kaidans 2nd movie (1996), Hanako San Ga Kita!! (1995) (and other earlier manga series and media related to the two) he also appeared in the 2018 Gegege no Kitaro anime as well (but notably does not seem to get featured in Mizukis older works.) - He's also appeared in various games including Yomawari: Night alone (2015) - the statue is also parodied in Yugioh's "Cosmic Urban Legends" series of cards.
Of course, Ninomiya Sontoku himself also has several educational documentaries, manga and anime series based on his real life & history as well.
Sticker Art by @Samkalensky (yo, thats me!) - Part of my Urban Legends and yokai stikcer collections, weather resistant 4" Glossy sticker. Check my shop & follow @samkalensky for many more!