On the side of a busy street in Chiyoda City stands a golden statue that resembles a bizarre cross between a human and a cicada. While the plaque on its pedestal explains what it’s meant to be, it does not help much.
According to the plaque, the sculpture is supposedly an anthropomorphic beetle or “gold bug” (kogane-mushi in Japanese) that is meant to be a watchful guardian of Chiyoda City. It was donated to the city by local academic council director Kinji Kubo and installed in 1991.
Whether it looks like a beetle or not is debatable, with some viewers comparing it to a turtle, a frog, and even a slug, but the thing that has puzzled people the most is its name.
The kanji on the plaque reads “豊展観守,” without instructions on how to pronounce it. Each of the letters stands for “rich,” “expand,” “watch,” and “guard,” respectively, with various ways to read it.
豊展 should likely read either Houten or Toyonori, and 観守 could be read as Kanshu, Kanju, Mimori, or Mimamori, meaning that there are several combinations. When enquired by a frustrated local, the city council could only respond that, in fact, even they didn’t know how to pronounce the strange creature’s name.
Unconcerned about such confusion, the “Gold Bug Guardian Statue” continues to watch over the city of Chiyoda with what appears to be a smile, an enigma not to be solved.