guri title

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.

In the original Japanese story, the titular mice discover an enormous egg in the forest and – spoiler alert – decide to use it to make an enormous castella, a heavenly light sponge cake and speciality of Nagasaki thought to have been brought to Japan by Portuguese traders several hundred years ago. Unable to shift the giant egg, however, they have to put their brains to work and cooperate to cook the thing out in the field.

  • Great Britain

Guri and Gura English

In the English version of the book, the first ever translation of Guri to Gura and published in Britain in 1967, the rodent pair put the egg they find to good use by creating a sponge cake. Not particularly far removed from the original castella, but perhaps a little more familiar to English readers.

In the French version, however, it’s a totally different story…

  • France

guri france

Ever the food lovers, the French translation sees the hungry pair cook up a huge galette, even going so far as to name the book after the buckwheat pancake itself while the mice make do with a mention in the subtitle: “The Giant Galette: The Adventure of Guri and Gura”.

  • Denmark

guri danish

In the Danish version, the two make what Japanese observers believe to be scrambled egg, which isn’t especially inspired if we’re being honest. If any of our dear readers have read the book in Danish and can either confirm or deny this let us know in the comments section below!

  • The Netherlands

guri tip

The Dutch decided to rename the mice Tip and Top. At first we couldn’t understand why they felt the need, but after listening to the audio track below, we can’t deny that their new names sound cool said in that Dutch accent. They did, however, leave the mice’s dish more or less alone, telling readers in the Netherlands that Tip and Top whipped up a classic cake with their giant egg.

  • Thailand 

guri thai

Released in 1994, the Thai version of Guri to Gura sees the pair making a huge “khanom mo kaeng”, a sweet baked pudding made with palm sugar, coconut and, of course, eggs! This actually sounds more delicious than the original castella!

  • South Korea

guri korean

Being so close to Japan, it’s little surprise that the 1993 Korean translation of the book describes a “castella bread” dish being made at the end of the tale.

The book is available in numerous other languages, from Khmer to traditional and simplified Chinese, so there really is no excuse not to find a copy and take a few minutes to read the simple story that has delighted millions of kids for generations.

▼ Chinese

guri simplified chinese

▼ Sinhalese

guri sinhalese

▼ In the Khmer language
guri kmel

We’ll leave you now with a video introducing the accompanying audio recordings for nine of the languages into which Guri to Gura has been translated. The video is mostly in Japanese, but it’s exciting to hear the differences between the world’s languages, particularly when we shift from Asia to Europe, so be sure to check it out. And if you already have, what food did Guri and Gura make when you first heard their story?

Languages:

English: 1:20 ~ 
Mandarin Chinese 1:53 ~
Korean 2:32  ~
Thai 3:18 ~
Khmer, or Cambodian ~ 4:05 ~
Danish 4:55 ~
France 5:33  ~ (Is it just us or is this version strangely musical!?)
Dutch 6:21 ~
Esperanto, everyone’s favourite made-up language 6:55 ~

Source/images: Naver Matome (Japanese)