Japanese PM shows off quirky Canadian souvenir
LAKE KAWAGUCHI, Japan -- A Quebec wood carver was delighted Thursday to learn Japan's prime minister was proudly showing off one of his creations -- a door-knocker featuring a wood carving of a beaver that he brought home from his recent trip to Canada.
In a video posted Thursday to his official Instagram account, Shinzo Abe installs the folksy souvenir at the entrance of his lakeside villa outside Tokyo.
Whimsical music plays as Abe, straight-faced and wearing a button-up shirt, hammers the door-knocker into place. His wife, Akie, laughs as she tests out the contraption.
Jean-Lionel Tremblay, one member of a brotherly duo of wood carvers north of Quebec City, said someone from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's office had called the shop looking for a carving.
But he didn't know it was going to be given as a gift to the Japanese leader.
"It makes me happy," the sculptor said in an interview, when told about the video. The brief clip has already been viewed more than 109,000 times on Instagram and shared widely on other social media.
Tremblay and his brother, Denis, describe themselves as the biggest producers of wooden ducks in their country.
Their factory, which produces all sorts of wood carvings, is located in a small town on the south shore of the St. Lawrence River called L'Islet-sur-Mer, about 100 kilometres north of Quebec City.
Tremblay was convinced the carving he sold the prime minister's office was of a loon. "I'm sure it's a loon we gave them!" he said.
But after hearing a more detailed description of the animal in the video -- a brown, mammal-like creature with a black tail, he changed his mind.
"Oh, yeah," he replied, "I guess it's a beaver."