Years ago I was in Japan with a delegation from the Western Australian Goldfields. We had a mayoral reception at the Kagoshima City Hall. It was all very formal, gifts were exchanged and an interpreter did his best to convey the abundance of best wishes expressed by both sides.
Our delegation leader explained to the Japanese dignitaries that in the early days of the Goldfields, prospectors had traveled hundreds of kilometres on foot through the harsh Australian bush. Often, all their meagre possessions were contained in a simple wooden wheelbarrow, which they pushed before them. The image of the struggling miner with his wheelbarrow has since become an iconic part of Australian folklore and symbol of the Goldfields themselves.
As a result, our delegation presented to the Mayor of Kagoshima a palm-sized gold plated replica of the prospector’s wheelbarrow. He handed it to the mayor and explained slowly that it was in a wheelbarrow like this that the early Goldfield’s pioneers had carried all their possessions into the rugged Australian interior.
The interpreter paid careful attention and relayed the story to an attentive mayor. When he had finished, however, his boss looked puzzled and muttered something that was then relayed to the leader of our delegation.
“The mayor would like you to explain again, please,” he asked apologetically and then strained almost physically to catch every word as the story was told again. When it was over he paused, obviously unwilling to relay to the mayor a tale that was no different to the last.
The mayor waited expectantly and, it must be said, with an air that was somewhat skeptical. A sense of embarrassment began to permeate the room.
All of a sudden the interpreter smiled and stamped his foot with delight and relief exclaiming, “Ah, it is a miniature! It is a miniature!”