As Mhairi Gowans claims in her blog “Fall into Yesterday” “Shakespeare was born in Japan”. Even if it seems to be impossible at first sight, since 1997 Shakespeare is living in Tokyo, more exactly in the town of Maruyama, where his new birthplace is located. Of course, it has not travel Shakespeare himself, but his origins, his works, his voice; his essence. Mhairi Gowans is referring to the Japanese Shakespeare Country Park, which recreates Stratford-Upon-Avon (the birthplace of the Bard) in the 16thcentury. Its aim is to give visitors an insight into Shakespeare’s world, into the surroundings of his infancy and above all, into the period when he wrote his works.
“Shakespeare wrote his works in the 16th century, yet what he says about love, about passion, about ambition, about hate, about jealously, about a whole range of human emotions is common throughout the world”
Said The British Ambassador David Wright in the ceremony of the opening of the park held on April 23, 1997.
Since the Country Park has been built down to the last detail, it will not be difficult for visitors to be immersed in British culture and Shakespearian literature. Indeed, every building has been constructed in half-timbered system which was characteristic of the Elizabethan England. But not only have buildings followed the typical traditions of the Shakespearean epoch, but also all the fixtures and fittings have been meticulously designed according to the conditions of the 16th century.
To be more precise, apart from Shakespeare’s houses ( Mary Arden’s house and his home during his later years), the Park includes the Globe Theatre, a Great Hall, a recreation of The Stratford Market, a barn-like building fitted as a Shakespearean theatre, quaint windmills, some administrative offices, a souvenir shop and even a robotic Shakespeare bust speaking in Japanese. In addition, The Rosemary Garden, whose name comes from the flower used in many Shakespearean dialogues, is adjoining the park and is home to a wide variety of plants and flowers that are brought from all over the world.
Obviously, this attention to detail in the creation of the replica village needs a high budget and an excellent design and construction team. The British architecture firm Julian Bicknell and Associates was the one in charge of this complex construction which cost the amount of 12 million dollars. Moreover, apart from facing the difficulties of building the park following the specifications of the 16th century, the construction team had to deal with one more problem: The high risk of earthquakes of Japan. That is why, the architecture firm had to make all the buildings earthquake-proof, carrying out a modernization that did not fit with the Elizabethan epoch.
However, so much work and inversion has been worthwhile. Most of the tourists that have visited the park have had a good impression and have been enriched by the experience, as you can see in this video.
“I know nothing about Shakespeare, but feel like I am in one of his plays” says the Japanese woman of the video.
“It’s good to learn something from another country so far away” says the elder man.
Despite its construction has gone almost unnoticed, at least, to a big part of Europe, people from all over the world have visited the Country Park and have even talked about their wonderful experiences using social networks. For instance, this English journalist of the BBC published how stunning the Country Park is in his Twitter account.
Here we have another example, the blogger Mhairi Gowans, who has also enjoyed this theme park:
“Whilst I have not been to Shakespeare’s birthplace in the UK, I have the great honour and pleasure of saying that I have greatly enjoyed exploring his house in what I call Stratford-Upon-Chiba.”
On the way to the Bard’s park, the first thing you will see is a sign informing you that The Shakespeare Country Park is located around 80 kilometres away from Tokyo and 15600 kilometres away from London. Moreover, it also includes the quotation of Ben Jonson referring to Shakespeare:
“He was not of an age but for all time.”
Thanks to this park we can see that not only is Shakespeare for all time, but also for all country, for all nation, for all over the world. Without a doubt, this Country Park means a great leap forward in the interaction and interchange between different cultures and countries. It shows how two far- away countries with cultures that totally differs from one to the other can be connected thanks to the love, the interest and the enthusiasm for literature. No matter the language, nor the country, all the world is a stage for literature, and this Country Park symbolizes that passion for literature has no boundaries.
- Mhairi Gowans (March 13,2013).Shakespeare Was Born In Japan. In Fall into yesterday retrieved 2013.11.20 from http://fallintoyesterday.com/2013-3-japan.html
- Onnadh Shiel (April 20, 2012).The Far East Bard – Shakespeare Country Park, Tokyo. In Cheapflights retreived 2013.11.20 from http://www.cheapflights.co.uk/news/the-far-east-bard-shakespeare-country-park-tokyo/
- J.Milton (October 27, 2004). Maruyama. In Found in translation,personal impressions of Japan retrieved 2013.11.19 from http://foundintranslationjmilton.blogspot.com.es/2004/10/maruyama.html
- “Stratford-in-Maruyama” (August 31, 1997).Call It Stratford-in-Maruyama. New York times retrieved 2013.11.18 from http://www.nytimes.com/1997/08/31/travel/call-it-stratford-in-maruyama.html
- Official page of Julian Bicknell and Associates. Retrieved 2013.11.17 from http://www.julianbicknell.co.uk/view-shakespearecountrypark_maruyama_chibaprefecture_japan.php
- Tomgoostudent (September 6, 2012). Shakespeare Country Park. In Transmedial Shakespeare. Studying Shakespeare beyond his text retreived 2013.11.18 from http://transmedialshakespeare.wordpress.com/2012/09/06/shakespeare-country-park/
- Shakespearean theme park (April 29,1997). Shakespearean theme park opens in Japan. The Nation retrieved 2013.11.16 from The Nation :http://news.google.com/newspapers? nid=437&dat=19970429&id=6tQtAAAAIBAJ&sjid=CjIDAAAAIBAJ&pg=2086,5538601