The $4 million tree ... that just keeps on giving

The $4 million tree ... that just keeps on giving
Published: Nov. 8, 2017 at 10:41 PM HST|Updated: Nov. 9, 2017 at 11:01 AM HST
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(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)

MOANALUA, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - They say money doesn't grow on trees but a famous monkeypod tree at Moanalua Gardens is generating millions.

Since 1975, the towering, century-old monkeypod has served as the advertising logo for Japanese electronics giant Hitachi.

It's one of the most beloved corporate symbols in Japan, as witnessed by the busloads of Japanese tourists that visit the iconic, umbrella-shaped plant each day.

It's so well known that people in Japan learn the Hitachi advertising jingle as children.

"Everyone knows this tree," said Yoshihiro Takashima of Aichi Prefecture, Japan.

Added Abner Undan, whose company Trees of Hawaii Inc. takes care of the tree:

"We've been doing the maintenance on this tree for over 20 years, maybe a thousand people a day come and visit this tree," he said.

J.P. Damon, Moanalua Garden's owner, said he recently renewed his contract with Hitachi, which gives the electronics company the exclusive right to use the tree in its advertising.

The terms were not disclosed but one source says the deal is similar to a previously ten-year pact, in which Hitachi paid $400,000 a year.

That money will go a long pay to pay for the upkeep of the tree and the 24-acre park so that visitors and local residents can enjoy the privately-owned garden.

Advertising experts have said that Hitachi is willing to pay such a large amount because the tree is a vital symbol of its worldwide business.

And the jingle many learned as children — several tourist we met at the garden Wednesday were able to recite the song from memory.

"Ever since I was small --  since I was three --  I've known this song from the commercials," said Masahi Yamamoto, a resident of Hyogo Prefecture, Japan.

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