The First Translation of "The Tale of Peter Rabbit" Found in Japan !


Beatrix Potter's The Tale of Peter Rabbit was published in the UK in 1902. Its Dutch version, published in 1912, has long been believed to be the first translation in the world. However, in April 2007, a Japanese version published in November 1906 was discovered.

Yoshihide Kawano, professor of English and American literature at Daito Bunka University in Tokyo, found the Japanese version, titled Otogi Shosetsu Itazurana Kousagi (A Fairy Tale of Mischievous Little Rabbits) in Nihon Nogyo Zasshi (The Japanese Journal of Agriculture.) The translator is Jiro Matsukawa, who was a travel writer and a former journalist. He did not mention the name of the author or the sources of the original. However, the story and the illustrations are clearly like those of The Tale of Peter Rabbit. Professor Kawano considered it a justifiable translation of the Tale and reported his finding to the Beatrix Potter Society.

Shin-ichi Yoshida, professor emeritus at Rikkyo University in Tokyo and a member of the society, says "It shows that Potter's works were already being introduced in the Orient at the same time as Potter was still writing them one after another. It is remarkable."


(2007.6.30 update)