The Island of Anne of Inexperienced Gables
‘Through the Lens’, Fujingaho Magazine, October, 2020
Click here to view pdf
Photos and text: Her Imperial Highness Princess Takamado
English Translation: Asia Club, a WBSJ Volunteer Group (YOKOYAMA Kazuko, KASE Tomoko, Ueno Naohiro)
The days I traveled abroad so freely and frequently seem to be long gone thanks to the COVID-19 outbreak. So, this time, I would like to show you some photgraphs I took of Prince Edward Island in Canada, in the hope that my readers will feel refreshed by these far-flung vistas, even if only slightly. In addition to the ones taken last year, I have selected some from 2004, taken during an earlier visit to the island.
Prince Edward Island is located in the Gulf of St. Lawrence along the east coast of Canada, and in Japan it is widely known as the setting for Lucy Maud Montgomery’s novel, “Anne of Green Gables”. It is quite a scenic place, with a vivid contrast of color between the fertile reddish soil and green grasslands. Particularly famous are the steeples of churches which stand out against the beautiful blue sky, and several unique lighthouses scattered along the coastline. The local staple foods are potatoes and lobsters. You may see lobster as a fancy treat, but for the local people, I’ve heard they are quite a common foodstuff. Historically, the island is the birthplace of Canadian Federal Government, since it hosted the inaugural meeting of Canadian Confederation when the country gained independence from England.
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In the northern part of the island there is a national park which is not only wildlife habitat, but also a leisure destination for people wanting to enjoy cultural heritage as well as beautiful nature. While a lot of seabirds breed here, including the Piping Plover Charadrius melodus (Near Threatened), coastal areas are open for people to have fun. In the key points there are signboards with notices like “no buggies” or “walk your dog on a leash”. Eggs of plovers and terns, in particular, are well-camouflaged and so difficult to see that they are easily trampled. Therefore, visitors must pay extreme attention when photographing such birds. I learned that, while many of the species’ breeding efforts have born fruit, others have not worked as expected due to climate change and other disruptions. In fact, just after I flew for Montreal, a great hurricane hit the island and caused serious damage.
This national park contains many places of interest, such as the birthplace of L.M.Montgomery – author of “Anne of Green Gables” and the series of novels that followed it – and many other places related to Anne. As such, a large number of Japanese tourists visit it. In fact, there is no country in the world where “Anne of Green Gables” is more popular than Japan. It was in 1939 when the original “Anne of Green Gables” was presented to Japanese novelist and translator Hanako Muraoka. Two years later, she started translating the novel into Japanese, when World War II broke out in Japan. Since it was considered dangerous just to possess a book written in the enemy’s language, Hanako kept the book firmly to herself and had finished translating it when the war ended. The book was published in1952 and was immediately and widely accepted by Japanese readers. It is easy to imagine how Anne, who lives cheerfully and positively no matter how unreasonably treated, moved the post-war Japanese heart. What lies in the background of the enduring popularity of this book is the universality of Anne’s words, which continue to give courage and hope to us now in the 21st century.
Anne was always grateful for ordinary daily life and placed her hope upon the possibility of tomorrow. In her words; “It’s been my experience that you can nearly always enjoy things if you make up your mind firmly that you will. Of course, you must make it up firmly.”
I feel that those words have the power to encourage and cheer us up in the present limited lives we all find ourselves in.