KFC disposes of ‘Curse of the Colonel’ statue in Japan


KFC Japan has announced the disposal of a giant plastic statue of the fast-food chain's iconic founder, Colonel Harland Sanders, which initially brought a “curse” to loyal Osaka's Hanshin Tigers fans before evolving into their “good luck” charm.

Key points:

  • The Japanese division of the American fast-food chain announced on Tuesday that the famous and historic statue would be disposed of, citing it has now become “too dilapidated to maintain.”

  • On March 8, KFC Holdings Japan Ltd. held a ceremony at the Sumiyoshi Taisha shrine in Osaka, resembling the tradition of cleansing a doll’s soul before laying it to rest. The practice is rooted in the Shinto belief in animism, where practitioners believe that inanimate objects or animals can possess souls or spirits.

  • The company’s president, Takayuki Hanji, attended the ceremony and offered Japanese sake and KFC chicken as they thanked the statue for its contribution to “raising the value of our brand name.”

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  • The statue's history traces back to 1985 when the Tigers won their first Central League pennant in 21 years. To celebrate the historic victory, many loyal fans paraded through the streets of Osaka toward the highly polluted Dotonbori River, chanting the names of the team's players at the time.

  • Upon reaching the river, some of the inebriated fans, who bore a resemblance to the players on the team, decided to jump into the dirty water after chanting the names of their Tigers lookalikes. However, none of them resembled former American baseball player Randy Bass.

  • Some intoxicated fan reportedly came up with the idea of throwing Colonel Sanders’ statue into the river for Bass’ turn. They allegedly stormed a nearby KFC branch and violently took the statue.

  • In the following years, the Tigers reportedly experienced a string of misfortunes. Star slugger Masayuki Kakefu suffered three injuries in 1986 before ultimately retiring in 1988 at the age of 33. Ace pitcher Chikafusa Ikeda injured his heel bone during a game in May 1986. The Tigers ended the 1987 season terribly, with an abysmal winning percentage. Additionally, Randy Bass was dismissed during the 1988 season.

In recent years:

  • The statue was eventually recovered from the Dotonbori Canal in 2009. Workers found the statue covered in grime and with its left hand and glasses missing.

  • After its recovery, KFC Japan requested a ceremonial cleansing of the statue at a shrine in the Kansai area before placing it on public display at a KFC branch outside of Koshien Stadium in Nishinomiya, Hyogo Prefecture, in March 2010. The company later relocated the statue to its headquarters in Tokyo before transferring it to its new office in Yokohama in 2017.

  • The Tigers eventually won its second Japan Series Championship on Nov. 5, 2023, a few weeks after the month and day the statue was thrown in the river in October 1985.

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