In the early 90s, Kyoto University had a problem. A statue on campus kept getting vandalized over and over, without any sign of stopping.
Students kept making their own additions to the statue of educator Hikoichi Orita, including face paint, clothing, props and just plain ol’ text and scribbles.
By 1994, the university was so fed up with all of the graffiti and vandalism that they put up a sign next to the statue. It said:
To paraphrase in English: Hikoichi Orita was a great man who contributed a lot to this school, so stop vandalizing his statue.
Unsurprisingly, the sign didn’t a damn thing to stop the vandalism. By 1997, the university decided to permanently remove the Orita-sensei statue; but even that didn’t stop people from messing with him.
Nowadays, instead of defacing the long-gone statue, people simply build their own, complete with pedestal and sign.
Every year, new, fake statues pops up on campus in place of the Orita-sensei statue around significant dates (like exams and such), featuring a different character in place of the seminal Kyoto University figure.
Gym leader Brock/Takeshi from Pokémon
Mr. Contac, the mascot for cold/flu medication Contac
Fujiya mascot Poko-chan
Twitter bot @nisehorn
Children’s TV show character Tendonman
A Kamen Rider character
Superman character from the manga Dr. Slump
Snack mascot Noppo Toppo
I feel kinda sorry for Hikoichi Orita; I’m sure he would have liked to be remembered as an educator and major figure in Kyoto University history, instead of an oft-defaced statue.
At the same time, the legacy of the Orita-sensei statue has made Hikoichi Orita much more notable than he might have otherwise been. After all, how else would I know about this minor 19th century historical figure?
To the Kyodai students who carry on the tradition of pranking the Orita-sensei statue, even though it’s been gone for almost 20 years: I salute you.