Sunday, August 25, 2013

The Mouth of Truth (Bocca della Verità)

What are YOU looking at?!

Mouth Of Truth in Odaiba, Tokyo
One of the common things that I often noticed in Tokyo, especially in game centers, was this circular rock-like sculpture of a scary-looking man's face. The mouth and eyes are darkened holes within the sculpture, which make you wonder what could lie beyond if only you were to reach out and...

I see these faces every now and then, but often wonder what the meaning behind them is. Today I am happy to announce that I have finally found the answer...and also that I don't know anything about classic Hollywood movies.

In the beginning, I thought this face was strictly part of the Japanese culture, but to my surprise, after a little bit of research it actually originates from the Roman Empire (now Italy) as far back as the first century AD. Some scholars believe that during this time, the circular sculpture was actually just a decorative manhole cover back in ancient times. The "Bocca della Verità" is now located at the church of Santa Maria in Cosmedin in Rome, Italy.

Famous Lie-Detector

During the Middle Ages, a new myth rose up around the sculpture which stated that if you were to place your hand inside the sculpture's mouth and told a lie, the scuplture would then promptly bite your hand off!

Apparently, the Mouth of Truth became immortalized in a famous scene from a Hollywood movie entitled Roman Holiday, which I have never seen or heard of before, starring Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck. For those of you like me, who have never seen the movie, I've included a video of the scene here:

Largely due to this endearing scene, the famous mouth has been reproduced in many different forms in Japan and I believe it is also why so many Japanese couples "test" their love by placing their hands in the mouth of the man that may or may not bite their hands off.

There is an exact replica of the Bocca della Verità (made in and shipped from Italy) here in Tokyo, Japan! It's located on the second floor entrance of the popular Venus Fort shopping mall in Odaiba.


Emilio Fernandez said...

Good morning how are you?

My name is Emilio, I am a Spanish boy and I live in a town near to Madrid. I am a very interested person in knowing things so different as the culture, the way of life of the inhabitants of our planet, the fauna, the flora, and the landscapes of all the countries of the world etc. in summary, I am a person that enjoys traveling, learning and respecting people's diversity from all over the world.

I would love to travel and meet in person all the aspects above mentioned, but unfortunately as this is very expensive and my purchasing power is quite small, so I devised a way to travel with the imagination in every corner of our planet. A few years ago I started a collection of used stamps because trough them, you can see pictures about fauna, flora, monuments, landscapes etc. from all the countries. As every day is more and more difficult to get stamps, some years ago I started a new collection in order to get traditional letters addressed to me in which my goal was to get at least 1 letter from each country in the world. This modest goal is feasible to reach in the most part of countries, but unfortunately it’s impossible to achieve in other various territories for several reasons, either because they are countries at war, either because they are countries with extreme poverty or because for whatever reason the postal system is not functioning properly.

For all this I would ask you one small favor:
Would you be so kind as to send me a letter by traditional mail from Japan? I understand perfectly that you think that your blog is not the appropriate place to ask this, and even, is very probably that you ignore my letter, but I would call your attention to the difficulty involved in getting a letter from that country, and also I don’t know anyone neither where to write in Japan in order to increase my collection. a letter for me is like a little souvenir, like if I have had visited that territory with my imagination and at same time, the arrival of the letters from a country is a sign of peace and normality and an original way to promote a country in the world. My postal address is the following one:

Emilio Fernandez Esteban
Avenida Juan de la Cierva, 44
28902 Getafe (Madrid)

If you wish, you can visit my blog where you can see the pictures of all the letters that I have received from whole World.

Finally I would like to thank the attention given to this letter, and whether you can help me or not, I send my best wishes for peace, health and happiness for you, your family and all your dear beings.

Yours Sincerely

Emilio Fernandez

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People Abroad said...

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