Japan respectfully bids farewell to a single bamboo shoot in Kyoto

Takenokone received a death poem, a posthumous name.

Kyoto has the reputation of being the most cultured city in Japan, where the appreciation of a harmonious way of life goes without saying. This includes respect and reverence for nature and its benefits, and since last month, a bamboo shoot has enjoyed celebrity status in the city’s Gion district.

The locals started calling it the Takenokonea play on words withprisokothe Japanese word for bamboo shoot, and “cone”. The Takenokone appeared without warning on the sidewalk of the intersection next to the Yasaka shrine in late April, directly opposite the Izuju sushi restaurant, where, true to its name, it functioned as a traffic cone, as seen in the video here.

At first glance, it looked like the bamboo shoot had grown on the sidewalk, but the truth is that it was placed there by Norio Kitamura, the owner of Izuju, while the restaurant was under renovation. Kitamura received the approximately 80 centimeters (31.5 inch) bamboo shoot from a friend and set it up like a traffic cone in hopes it would brighten the day for passers-by.

Japan is always happy when there is an intersection between cute, quirky and cultural things, and during the Golden Week holiday period, the Takenokone had a lot of visitors. However, those who came to see it in mid-May were surprised to find an actual plastic traffic cone in its place, with its tip covered in the outer layer of the skin of a bamboo shoot..

On May 13, a written notice was added to the cone, explaining that “On May 11, Takenoko-sama ascended to heaven.”

“Takenoko-sama achieved great things while working admirably as Takenokone, and was loved by many in his life,” the notice continues, in a format mimicking the memorial messages written for those recently deceased in Japan. It even includes a photo of the deceased, as is Japanese custom, although it replaces the traditional black frame of obituaries in Japan with a bamboo shoot colored frame.

Always respecting Japanese funeral traditions, the notice includes a death poem for Takenokone and also conveys a posthumous name on himMosoin Suzume Homare Asa Hori Takebayashi Koji, with the Takebayashi portion meaning “bamboo forest”.

Reactions to Takenokone’s departure and respectful written farewell on Japanese Twitter included:

“Rest in peace.”
“Magnificent. I wouldn’t expect anything less from Kyoto.
“What a stylish thing to do in Kyoto.”
“Takenokone, I saw you working so hard in a TV report. Have a good rest.”
“I just went to see it today and was so sad to find out it was gone.”

Kitamura himself was the one who wrote the review. “I would be happy if I could make Kyoto visitors happy,” he says, and while saying goodbye to unlikely stardom is bittersweet, Takenokone has definitely given people something to smile about in recent weeks.

Sources: Maido News, Yomiuri Shimbun, IT Media, Twitter (1, 2)
Top Image: Pakutaso
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