Anne of Japan

>> Tuesday, October 27, 2009

I've been reading Anne of Green Gables aloud to Jo (and Wendi) for the past month, and we're all having a blast. None of us had ever read L.M. Montgomery's classic about stodgy old Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert,  who are mistakenly sent a red-haired, talkative, and radiant orphan girl instead of the boy they thought they were getting. I was the only one of us with any expectations going in to reading this, having read some selected passages in preparing to use Anne in a cameo role in my new Fantasy Baseball novel. But we're all having a more terrific time than we could have anticipated. Jo in particular has really fallen in love with the characters, immediately insisting we create Anne, Marilla, and Matthew as Mii characters on the Wii.


Curiously, Anne is super-popular in Japan too. I first learned of this through Wikipedia, which mentioned that the Green Gables farmhouse that inspired the one in the books is visited by many Japanese tourists--some of whom come with their hair dyed red, and some of whom choose to get married there. Then, this week, Mental Floss blogged more about Anne's impact on Japan:
Anne is huge in Japan. Like Harry Potter huge. Anne of Green Gables was translated into Japanese by a respected and well-known Japanese author; in 1952, when Japanese officials were looking for translations of enriching, inspirational Western literature to teach in schools, Anne became part of the Japanese curriculum. Japan fell head over heels for Anne, finding her red hair exotic, her hardworking attitude and kind nature endearing, and her story of winning over the town inspirational.

Anne has become an entrenched part of Japanese culture: There is an Anne Academy, a nursing school nicknamed the “Green Gables School of Nursing,” and several national fan clubs. People get married in Anne-themed weddings, thousands of Japanese tourists visit Prince Edward Island each year, and surveys still consistently find that the book is the most favorite of young women across Japan. In 2008, Canada and Japan created anime-style Anne stamps featuring characters from the book. The stamps were so popular in Japan that they sold 10 million of the 15 million run in the first month of their release.
The stamps:

How wild that L.M. Montgomery's story of an imaginative little farm girl and her world could have such an impact on a another culture half-way around the world! We're certainly fans too in our little part of the world. Perhaps we'll plan a trip to Prince Edward Island as well. I'm sure Jo wouldn't mind dying her hair red for the occasion...


tanita davis October 27, 2009 at 2:44 PM  

It really amazes me how the Japanese embrace stories of little girls -- and just make them their own. (Or, little girls living with little wizards, in the case of Howl's Moving Castle.) Good old Anne-with-an-e.

Anne,  October 27, 2009 at 8:59 PM  

Well, you've done it. I'm crying. Anne with an e; orphan girls; jo's awesome parents. Dammit. I love you guys.

Jackie Parker November 4, 2009 at 3:30 PM  

Oh, WOW. This is really cool! I had no idea. I <3 Anne.

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