literature

Guri and Gura, the classic children’s book that’s a little bit different in every country

First published back in 1963, Rieko Nakagawa and Yuriko Omura’s Guri to Gura is one of Japan’s most beloved children’s books. Nearly every adult and child in the country has read or been read the story and has been enchanted by the tale of two mice who overcome one of the cutest logistical problems ever in order to cook up a cake big enough to last a whole day.

Over the years, the book has been translated into dozens of languages, from English to Esperanto, to the point that few now realise the story originally come from Japan. Hawk-eyed netizens in Japan have noticed, however, that in some versions of the delightful tale the dish the field mice cook up at the end of the story changes depending on the country in which the book is published. Let’s take a look to see how Guri and Gura differs the world over.

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How the Expired Copyright License of Old Literary Works Could Keep Japan’s Cultural Soil Fertile

When it comes to reading famous literary works whose copyright license has expired, there is one piece of software that is renowned for doing the job rather well. It goes by the name of “Aozora Bunko” and is a digital contents reader available on a wide variety of devices; there’s even a version available for smart phone users. It is currently host to a plethora of copyright-free material rich in Japanese history and culture. What’s particularly exciting is that the more time goes by, the more the library of works can be seen to grow.

Anyone with an interest in old Japanese masterpieces – and can read Japanese – will surely be lured in by what this software has to offer. In this connection, on January 1 this year, the legendary writer Eiji Yoshikawa’s work “Miyamoto Musashi” is also set to be added to the collection. Miyamoto Musashi is a bestselling novel depicting the life of legendary samurai Musashi Miyamoto, who actually existed during the Japanese Edo era.

Just what makes all this free content possible is the rule that governs copyright licensing laws: 50 years after an author has passed away, copyrighted works are released freely into the public domain.

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Japanese Convenience Stores to Remove Adult Magazines from Shelves?

Just last week while picking up milk at my local 7-Eleven, I found myself chuckling at the sight of a teenage boy trying to peek at the adult magazines arranged on the rank right beside the comic books. I had to admire his technique as he stood holding a weekly manga collection open in front of him while staring, unblinking and open-mouthed, at the covers of the naughty magazines to his right.

Alas, this young man and thousands like him could soon be reduced to checking out far more explicit and abundant images of girls via the internet as “a certain convenience store” is rumoured to be clearing its naughty magazine section away very soon.

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