Because It’s There

I often go to a hot spring place in a nearby town. On the way, there’s a collapsing amusement park “Canadian World.” I have a dim memory of seeing its TV commercials when I was a kid, but I’ve never been there. It must not be only me who have a doubt what this small local city has to do with Canada? According to my research, Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery is the theme of the park where the streetscape of Prince Edward Island is re-created so faithfully that the architectural plan was used when the original building of Green Gables caught fire in 1997. In spite of the high degree of completion, the park has never gained popularity and is going to collapse quietly.

Why was the theme Anne of Green Gables? It is said because the wife of the park owner liked the novel. When initially learning that, I remembered the story behind the development of SONY WALKMAN. Just before deciding the final specification, the product development team proposed to add a recording function, and the director in charge of WALKMAN turned down the proposition, saying such a modification would obscure the product concept and mislead the market. Consequently, his decision changed the times by sending the clear message to people “You can always bring music.” You may not believe it, but people believed music was something we enjoy at home with audio equipment. After WALKMAN, they came to listen to music outside with earphones, which was an epoch-making change.

The director of SONY understood simplicity, story, or conceptual necessity was much more important than function or convenience. We are basically lazy and likely to avoid things difficult to understand. Canadian World built by personal preference in the Japanese small local town without the remotest connection with Canada may be destined to collapse. On the contrary, we are so simple, and what we do is said to be a necessary consequence. We’re surrounded by the beautiful mountains of Hokkaido, and make wooden furniture sourced from the rich forests.

Shungo Ijima

He is travelling around the world. His passion is to explain Japan to the world, from the unique viewpoint accumulated through his career: overseas posting, MBA holder, former official of the Ministry of Finance.

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