The Hitachi Tree of Moanalua Gardens

About 5 miles northwest of downtown Honolulu, is a 24-acre privately-owned park called Moanalua Gardens, best known for its annual Prince Lot Hula Festival, where locals and visitors partake in a wealth of cultural workshops, demonstrations, food booths, craft vendors, and the festival’s central attraction—hula presentations. The festival takes its name and inspiration from the fact that Prince Lot Kapuaiwa, who later reigned as King Kamehameha V, used to entertain his guests here with hula dancers at a time when missionaries were actively suppressing the hula as being a licentious and idle pastime. Moanalua Gardens was the King’s childhood home. Today, the garden is home to historic structures, such as the King’s cottage, a temple, a koi pond and many rare plants and trees.
The garden is open to the public and visitors are charged a modest fee to enter the park. The revenue from ticket sales goes towards maintenance and upkeep of the park, but the majority of the cost is paid for by the Japanese electronics manufacturer Hitachi. Why? Because of this tree.
The “Hitachi tree” in Moanalua Gardens. Photo credit: MW-Photos/
This tree, a beautiful, large monkeypod, with a distinctive umbrella-shaped canopy, grows in the middle of a grassy area in the middle of the park. The tree is estimated to be around 130 years old and its grand canopy provides shade over an area 40 meters in diameter. The city of Honolulu has designated this tree as a tree of historical significance and has protected it as such. It is also one of the most beloved corporate symbols in Japan.
Since 1973, Hitachi Corporation has been using images and footage of this tree—now known as “Hitachi Tree”—as their corporate symbol. According to their website, the tree symbolizes the “comprehensive drive” and the “wide business range” of the Hitachi Group.
“It continues today as an image of the Hitachi Group's working for communities through leveraging of its collective capacities and technologies, and the dedication of the individuals that the Group comprises,” a statement on Hitachi’s website reads. The statement continues: “The tree is widely recognized, especially in Japan, and has become an important symbol of the Hitachi Group’s reliability, and earth-friendliness. It also enhances Hitachi’s brand value as a visual representation of its corporate slogan: "Inspire the Next."”
Hitachi is one of the Japan’s biggest companies, and a well-loved and trusted brand. Owing to the company’s wide reach, the Hitachi Tree has became very popular in Japan. Busload of Japanese tourists come to Moanalua Gardens nearly every day to see the tree and have their pictures taken with the tree in their backdrop.
Hitachi originally paid US$20,000 per year to Samuel Damon, the then owner of Moanalua Gardens, for the rights to use the tree’s image in their commercials. After the death of Samuel Damon in 2004, the Gardens were acquired by a local corporation called Kaimana Ventures, who negotiated with Hitachi to raise the annual payment to US$400,000. According to Kaimana Ventures, the revenue from Hitachi helps partially cover the US$600,000 annual expenses for the park.

The Hitachi Tree’s canopy.  
The Hitachi Tree of Moanalua Gardens The Hitachi Tree of Moanalua Gardens Reviewed by CUZZ BLUE on December 01, 2018 Rating: 5

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