Saturday, November 27, 2021

    The Hitachi Tree is a well-known Japanese corporate symbol that grows in Hawaii.

    Photo: KeithH/Wikimedia Commons

    A majestic monkeypod tree growing on the Hawaiian island of Oahu has been the symbol of electronics and technology firm Hitachi since 1975, making it one of Japan’s most recognisable corporate icons.

    The so-called “Hitachi Tree” is one of several monkeypod trees growing in the privately owned Moanalua Gardens, which was previously King Kamehameha the IV’s childhood residence, but it attracts the most tourists, with staff workers claiming that 1,000 people visit it every day. The majority of them are Japanese, and there’s a reason behind it.

    For nearly five decades, the Hitachi Corporation has exploited the tree as a symbol, and millions of Japanese children have grown up watching its gorgeous crown on TV and chanting its own charming tune.

    According to the Hitachi Group’s website, “the Hitachi Tree is a prominent promotional symbol of the Hitachi Group.” “To promote the Hitachi Group, the first TV commercial for the Hitachi Tree aired in 1973. It embodied the Group’s philosophy of contributing to society by putting all of its resources into a wide range of business disciplines in Japan. Since then, Hitachi Tree commercials aimed at the domestic market have appeared in a variety of media, including newspapers and periodicals, public transportation, picture books, and tree-themed photography competitions.”

    So, how significant is the Hitachi Tree to the Hitachi Corporation? The tree is important enough for the Japanese corporation to spend more than 45 million yen ($400,000) a year to ensure that the owner of the private Moanalua Gardens looks after it. That is, at least, how much it paid for the previous ten-year agreement, which was renewed in 2017. According to multiple accounts, the sum was sufficient to cover two-thirds of the park’s annual maintenance costs.

    The Hitachi Tree is 130 years old, is 25 metres tall, and has a massive domed crown that creates a 40-meter-wide shadow. Tree is protected by a unique statute that states that it can only be cut down with Honolulu officials’ approval. However, given the amount of money it generates simply by existing, the owner would have to be insane to shut it down.

    Because the Hitachi Corporation has such a significant presence in Japan, the lovely tree is far more well-known there than in Hawaii or anywhere else on the planet. Every day, buses full of Japanese tourists gather at Moanalua Gardens with the express aim of seeing the famed Hitachi Tree.

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