Today we have one of the many Miffy books! In English it is called “Miffy at the Seaside.” Its original Dutch title is “Nijntje aan zee” and of course it is by Dick Bruna. The Japanese title is “Usakochan to Umi.”
I know that I have often seen Miffy’s name here in Japan as ミッフィー. (Miffy, basically.) But in this book it is “Usakochan.” Usagi means rabbit, so Usakochan is like saying Little Rabbit.
It turns out that Miffy’s name in Dutch also means Little Rabbit, according to Wikipedia. Nijntje is a diminutive of the Dutch word for rabbit.
Wikipedia also has something interesting to say: Miffy is sometimes assumed to be a Japanese character, because Sanrio’s Hello Kitty, introduced in 1974, is rendered using a similar line style. The Miffy brand is popular in Japan, with strong sales of Japanese-made Miffy merchandise. In an interview for The Daily Telegraph, Bruna expressed his dislike for Hello Kitty. “‘That,’ he says darkly, ‘is a copy [of Miffy], I think. I don’t like that at all. I always think, “No, don’t do that. Try to make something that you think of yourself”.
So is Hello Kitty (known in Japan as Kitty Chan) a copy of Miffy? Hmmm………… Never thought of this before, but I can see it.
Miffy has a HUGE following in Japan. Her own personal website is in English, Dutch, and Japanese. http://www.miffy.com/
The Japanese version can be found here.
The English version can be found here.
The Dutch version can be found here.