Statue of Ninomiya Sontoku at Hōtokuninomiya-jinga in Odawara, Kanagawa, near Ninomiya's birthplace.
A color lithograph patriotic fan sample print, likely created between 1937 and 1941 during the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937-1945) , depicting young students, possibly on a class outing, visiting one of the many statues of Ninomiya Sontoku 二宮尊徳 (1787-1856), whose life serves as a model of diligence and selfless behavior for children. As in the pictured statue, he is usually portrayed as a diligent boy reading a book as he walks to school with a pile of firewood on his back.
Better known by the name Ninomiya Kinjirō 二宮金次郎, his childhood was beset with severe hardship and obstacles. He would go on to become an agronomist and promote the concept and practice of hōtoku shihō (repaying virtue), a religious philosophy combining the ideals of "cooperation, mutual assistance, and honoring one’s parents with that of more tangible matters [such as] irrigation, better crop fertilization, and storing excess crops to protect against lean years." His teachings would later be used by those supporting Japan's militarization, expansionism and colonization of Asia. After the war his teachings would rise again as an example of thrift and savings to develop the capital needed for Japan's economic revival.