The Bunny Rabbit on the Moon. 兎兎、なにをみてはねる?

. . . Before we get down to business, let’s start with a 15-second Bunny Rabbit in the Moon sake commercial:


Update (from September 2011):  more, lots more, bunny rabbits.

With only a 2% Christian population, there’s not a lot of widespread Easter celebrating that goes on in Japan, although several million Japanese Christians have been celebrating and contemplating the season and churches will, of course, be packed on Easter Sunday from Sapporo to Saitama and from Kanagawa to Kyoto to Kagoshima.

Not a lot of Easter Bunny goings on in Japan, comparatively speaking.  However, throughout the year, about once a month in fact, Japanese (and Chinese and Vietnamese and Koreans, virtually all East Asians…) think of bunny rabbits, or, more properly, one special bunny rabbit more than most Westerners.  That one, special bunny rabbit is, of course, the Rabbit on the Moon.  In Japanese the word for rabbit is “usagi” (うさぎ, or 兎) and when Japanese and other East Asia residents look up at a full moon, they don’t see a pockmarked man with a goofy smile staring (leering?) down at them, no, they see a cavorting rabbit.  How about you?

The children’s song, “Usagi,” is known to every Japanese like “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” is known to North Americans:

(Mr.) Rabbit, (Mr.) Rabbit, what you see when you jump?
The fifteenth night moon is not nearly enough.
Jump into the night and dance with the moon.
No time to sleep, the party is just starting!

Usagi usagi nani o mitehaneru?
juugoya no tsuki dake ja monotarinai
yoru ni tobidashite tsuki to odorou
nemurenai utage wa mada mada kore kara!

Here’s the tune, without lyrics (I’m looking for a YouTube with, say, a children’s choir singing it or something.  Will update if I find something like that).  Ah.  Found one.

Here’s another view, another take on the Rabbit on the Moon:

And here’s a rather comprehensive Wikipedia entry on the Rabbit on the Moon, for those who wish to explore this in detail.  As I was born in one of the Years of the Rabbit, I find this kind of cool.  Happy Easter.


Very fun rabbity vid from Saitou Kazuyoshi (斉藤和義):


    • Carol
    • April 4th, 2010

    Too cool! I will definitely have to show this to the bunny enthusiast in my family… 😉

      • letsjapan
      • April 4th, 2010

      Wonderful, Carol. I more-than-sometimes forget how things that are a “given” to Asiaphiles like me (“Well of course there’s a Rabbit on the Moon!”), are not necessarily known to my North American or other non-Asian friends. It was in an SUV on my way back from an evening’s trip with friends to the Sea of Japan, one December night in 1990, that the wife of a friend told me about the Rabbit on the Moon and taught me the words to “Usagi, Usagi.” I have to remember that not everyone I know shares that memory, just as I don’t share all of theirs.

    • Lois
    • April 6th, 2010

    The only Japanese song I can sing.

    But the version I learned from Hirono-san went “Usagi, usagi, nani mitehaneru, juugoya no tsuki-san, mitehaneru.”

    And after some sake, it’s “unagi, unagi….”

    As you’ll recall….

    • letsjapan
    • April 6th, 2010

    As I recall…

    Heh, it’s all a little dreamy to me.

    “All that we see or seem is but a dream within a dream.” Poe

  1. November 1st, 2010

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