New Japanese translation of Peter Rabbit set to hit shelves in March

This illustration of Peter Rabbit is used on the cover of “The Tale of Peter Rabbit”

A new Japanese version of the beloved Peter Rabbit series will be translated by Mieko Kawakami, 45, an Akutagawa literary prize laureate. The first three books are scheduled to go on sale in March.

The release date of the new version coincides with the 120th anniversary of when the first book was published in Britain.

“It’s coming together as a new Peter Rabbit that is sure to entertain everyone, from children to adults,” said a spokesperson for Hayakawa Publishing Corp., which will put out the new translation.

Kawakami said, “I make sure the fun rhythms of the original are carefully translated, and I will choose more modern expressions when it comes to words and phrases related to class and gender.”

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Mieko Kawakami

Peter Rabbit was created by Beatrix Potter (1866-1943), who was the author and illustrator of the 23-book series. The first book in the series — “The Tale of Peter Rabbit” — was published in 1902. The books not only feature Peter Rabbit and his family, but also other animals, including cats, squirrels and hedgehogs.

The new translation of “The Tale of Peter Rabbit” and two subsequent books are set to hit shelves on March 24. The entire series is scheduled to be completed in around 2 years’ time.

About 250 million copies of the 23-book series have been printed in 110 countries and territories. The current Japanese version, published by Fukuinkan Shoten, was translated by various people including children’s literature specialist Momoko Ishii (1907-2008).