Raw Japan

Slices of Japanese business, politics and life

Colonel Sanders returns

March 11, 2009

colonelAfter nearly a quarter century on the bottom of a Japanese river, Colonel Sanders has come up smiling.

Ecstatic fans of the Hanshin Tigers baseball team in 1985 tossed a statue of the Kentucky Fried Chicken founder into the Dotonbori River in Osaka, western Japan, when the perpetual underdogs won their first Central League pennant in 21 years.

 Tigers fans, who saw a resemblance between the Colonel and the team’s bearded American slugger, Randy Bass, jumped into what was then one of Japan’s most polluted rivers when the losing streak ended — and took the life-size statue along for the swim.

The Tigers went on to win the Japan Series championship in 1985, but have never done so again, prompting some to suggest the missing Colonel had cast a curse.

A diver checking for unexploded World War Two ordnance in the river as part of a clean-up found the Colonel’s top half on Tuesday, minus his hands, but still sporting his trademark string tie and grin.

“When I heard the statue had been found, I felt that history had ended,” Yoshio Yoshida, 75, the former Hanshin manager, was quoted by the Asahi newspaper as saying. “Recalling 1985, I’d like them to achieve the dream of being Japan No. 1 again.”

The Colonel’s smile might have widened, if it could, when his bottom half was recovered and reunited with the top on Wednesday.


“It’s only a statue, but I felt as if I was rescuing someone,” a worker told reporters after the Colonel’s lower half  was found.

Photo Credit: Kyodo News

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