Sunday, May 13, 2012

Canon and Kannon

The next time you use a Canon camera battery and start taking pictures, think for a moment about the goddess of compassion, known in Japanese as Kannon. Because she is often shown holding a child, she has sometimes been compared to the Virgin Mary. When Christianity was banned in Japan in the Edo period (1603-1868) some underground Christian groups venerated Mary in the form of a statue of Kannon, and these were called Maria Kannons.

Maria Kannon (Wikipedia)
When Canon was founded by Goro Yoshida in 1934, he named his company Kwanon, after Kannon (known in Chinese as Guan Yin). Kwanon was also the name of the firm's 35mm camera, with a focal plane shutter, developed also in 1934. In the 1940s, the company became Canon.

And it is thanks to cameras and the amazing power of photographs that I can, for example, look up articles about Kannon and the Maria Kannons, and see actual, sharp, beautiful images of things I never knew about before this morning. Such is the power of digital cameras, powered themselves by the Canon battery charger and, of course, a Canon digital camera battery. And we also have to power of being able to go online and shop for all kinds of digital camera batteries and accesories. It's quick and rather more amazing than we tend to think. So it's good to remember that back in the 1930s, when Canon was first founded, shopping and taking photographs were both considerably more challenging than they are now.

 From an ancient, compassionate goddess and the sleek digital camera you carry with you to record the images you want to remember: Canon represents both.

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