Masakichi Hirano ran a rice shop. And Foujita included his rice granary in “Events in Akita.”
The mural was complete in 1937. At the time, it was said to be the largest mural in the world, but it was about more than just its size, as Foujita reportedly completed “Events at Akita” after only 15 days. However, despite finishing his grand mural, the artist continued to live at Hirano’s rice granary when World War 2 set in.
And so time passed. Thirty years later, as the mural was transported to the Masakichi Hirano Art Museum, it turned out to be so big that it couldn’t be carried out of the granary. So, how did they manage it? Unbelievably, they tore down the granary, then carried the mural out.
Those who remember those days recall it thus: “I remember, I was in second grade when they tore down the granary at Shimokomemachi-itchome, and I saw the Nippon Express folks take the painting away,” “Yeah, they carted it away on a horse-drawn carriage,” and so on. Such testimonials from the townsfolk attest to its Akita pedigree better than any official biography ever could.
And so goes the tale of the deep connection between rice and “Events in Akita.” A testament to this is in the bags of rice rendered in the mural itself. Since the weather in Akita is mild by Tohoku standards, rice is more plentiful than Pacific-facing regions. However, due to the humidity of the region disrupting the ideal dry conditions needed for rice, it endured hard times in the past as its rice was infamously called “rotten.” Thanks to advancements in technology, they turned this infamy around during the Taisho Period, and Akita rice has enjoyed nationwide acclaim ever since. Back in the day, manufacturers would insert postcards for their consumers, and as a result of this steady cooperation, the Akita rice we know today was born.