- 彦根論叢 (ISSN:03875989)
- no.第404号, pp.64-79, 2015-06
This paper aims to explore fictitiousness intourism and chooses the Nara Dream Landtheme park, which the author describes as a“copy” of the “original” U.S. Disneyland Resort,as the object of study. The author discussessuch matters as the relationship between theoriginal and the copy, whether there were anyconnections between the creator of the originaland the founders of the copy, and the chasm ofunderstanding that existed between the twoparties.Nara Dream Land was founded by KunizoMatsuo. Deeply inspired by what he saw at Disneylandin the United States, Matsuo set out tobuild its copy in Japan with the sheer desire toshare the same exciting experience with Japanesechildren. The park, however, has oftenbeen held in a negative light, with the dominantview being it was an unofficial imitation,one that hindered the efforts years later to openthe official Disneyland in Tokyo. The park wasalso criticized for having ruined the valuablehistorical sites featured in ancient manyo wakapoems.Matsuo’s autobiography and statements ofpeople close to him indicate that he met WaltDisney in 1958 and secured Disney’s commitmentto provide some kind of assistance inbuilding Nara Dream Land. Their accounts canbe confirmed in several newspaper articles ofthe time, but the facts are elusive. Around thesame time, the Yomiuri Shimbun Corporationwas also vying to win Disney’s cooperation fora plan to build a large amusement park by leveragingbusiness contacts with the NipponTelevision Network.Of the 20 founders of original DreamlandCorporation, the company that erected NaraDream Land, the author takes a particular interestin Masaichi Nagata, president of theDaiei Motion Picture Company. Nagata acquiredDisney’s film distribution rights duringhis 1949 visit to the United States and subsequentlyhis company launched a foreign filmdivision. He also engaged in Disney characterlicensing and later helped promote Tokyo Disneylandin accordance with the agreement withthe Walt Disney Company headquarters.While recruiting potential investors forDreamland Corporation, Nagata claimed thathe introduced Matsuo to his close friend ‘Walt’at the time of Matsuo’s trip to America and thatMatsuo acquired Disney’s permission to open areproduction in Japan. Given that Nagata wasone of the few businessmen in Japan with astrong connection to Walt Disney, and onewho made regular visits to the U.S. Disneyland,it can be presumed that his name appearing onthe list of founders as well as his active supportfor the proposed park was enough to convincepeople that Nara Dream Land was not a copybut an official reproduction of the U.S. original.In other words, Nagata’s role was akin to thatof an “apparent representative.”078 THE HIKONE RONSO 2015 summer / No.404The majestic railway station building situatedat the Nara Dream Land entrance is said tohave been designed by a famous architect whenhe accompanied Matsuo on his U.S. trip. Therailroad encircling the park is a standard featurein all Disneyland parks around the world, exceptfor Tokyo Disneyland, and the park inNara also adhered to this style marked by thefounder’s love of trains. The author speculatesthat Matsuo, a former boss of a traveling theatertroupe, flew to the U.S. with henchmen ina show of Japanese“Jingi”, and perhaps assumedthat giving his park an entrance gateway identicalto the original was sufficient to make it aDisneyland reproduction.Nara Dream Land is a negative legacy and asymbol that Japan, in the years Nara DreamLand was being developed, had not yet reachedthe level of social maturity that ensured theprotection of intellectual property rights. Thepark nevertheless had a significant impact onnumerous aspects of Tokyo Disneyland, fromits planning and establishment to designs, andfor this reason, the author argues that the nowdesolate park, and in particular, the stationbuilding of the park-encircling railroad, nothaving undergone any kind of renovationssince first built, merits recognition as industrialheritage representative of the Japanese themepark industry.