September 4, 1913 – Chairman of the Oriental Land Company and Disney Legend Masatomo Takahashi is Born
“Thanks to Masatomo, for years to come, families around the Asia-Pacific region will experience the delights of Disney and its magical theme parks.” – Roy E. Disney
On September 4, 1913, Masatomo Takahashi was born in Fukushima, Japan. He graduated from Tokyo Imperial University in 1939, and began working at the Riken Heavy Industries Company until Japan’s entry into World War II; he then served as an Army interpreter, serving in areas such as Shanghai and New Guinea. Once the war ended, he began working at Kenzai Company, Ltd., working up the management ranks from executive managing director to eventually becoming its president. In 1961, Takahashi left Kenzai to join the Oriental Land Company (OLC) as its senior executive managing director, mainly working in the area of land reclamation with fisherman. Takahashi had always had a dream of bringing Disneyland to the children of Japan and, after becoming the president and representative director of OLC in 1978, he approached the Walt Disney Company with his idea: building a Disney theme park in Japan’s capital city of Tokyo. After the creation and success of Walt Disney World, the idea was given the greenlight, and contracts were signed in 1979. Takahashi was steadfast on the idea that this wasn’t to be an Asian version of the popular Disney park, but a park similar to those in the United States. In 1983, his vision was fulfilled when Tokyo Disneyland opened to great success. For his unwavering vision, Takahashi was honored as a Disney Legend in 1998. After becoming the chairman of OLC, Takahashi continued to develop and expand his idea, creating the idea that would soon become Tokyo DisneySea, located in Tokyo Bay. Takahashi passed away on January 31, 2000, with Tokyo DisneySea opening on September 4, 2001.