Japanese Stamps Feature Peter Rabbit and Other Beatrix Potter Characters

On March 31, 2011 Japan Post issued a sheet of ten 50 yen postage stamps and a sheet of ten 80 yen postage stamps celebrating The World of Peter Rabbit. The stamps commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Japanese-language publication of Beatrix Potter’s The Tale of Peter Rabbit, and include pictures of favorite characters and scenes from the twenty-three stories in The World of Peter Rabbit series.

Peter Rabbit, beloved all over the world, has been translated into 35 languages and sold in over 117 countries. And none of the countries is more enthusiastic about the mischievous little bunny than Japan. In addition to loving the characters and reading their stories in Japanese, young Japanese children use English versions of Peter Rabbit books to learn English.

Every year thousands of Japanese tourists visit Hill Top Farm, Beatrix Potter’s home in the Lake District of England. Nearly a quarter of the 80,000 visitors to the site are from Japan. For those who can’t travel so far, Tokyo has a chain of Peter Rabbit Juice Bars and a re-creation of Hill Top Farm.

Beatrix Potter was born to a life of relative privilege in London, England in 1866. In addition to her work in children’s literature, her legacy includes land conservation and scientific illustration. The influences on her stories and the accompanying illustrations were broad, including folk tales, bible stories, and the children’s books of her own youth. Her animal characters and the timeless fantasy world they occupy reflect her own love of pets and an enchantment with the English countryside where she lived out her adult life.

Potter’s artistic talents were apparent early in her life and as a young woman her illustrations were published on Christmas cards and in books of verses by other authors. Her earliest books and illustrations, The Tale of Peter Rabbit, The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin and The Tailor of Gloucester, were originally conceived in a series of illustrated letters she would send to the children of her former governess and lifelong friend Annie Carter Moore. Potter was a savvy business woman and in many ways ahead of her time. She expanded the Peter Rabbit franchise with merchandising that included a Peter Rabbit doll, a tea set, a board game and more. Her wealth from these endeavors gave her independence from her parents and allowed her to live comfortably with her husband William Heelis at Hill Top raising livestock and championing conservation.

The twenty stamps making up the series depict some of Potter’s most memorable and beloved scenes and characters. In addition to Peter, Flopsy, Mopsy, Cottontail and Mr. McGregor, you’ll find the mouse from The Tailor of Gloucester, Benjamin Bunny, Pigling Bland, Old Mr. Brown, Squirrel Nutkin, Mrs. Tiggy-winkle, Jemima Puddle-duck, and Tom Kitten.




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