“Once upon a time, there were four little rabbits, and their names were Flopsy, Mopsy, Cotton-tail and Peter. They lived with their Mother in a sand-bank, underneath the root of a very big fir-tree…”
And so begins the tale of cheeky, little Peter Rabbit.
When my siblings and I were young, our mother used to read the Peter Rabbit stories to us. We loved getting swept up in the drama that seemed to follow the characters everywhere, and were equally dazzled by the beautiful drawings. Secretly, I think mum always chose those books because she herself adored them!
If you’ve read my About page, you may recall I grew up in the countryside. We always had lots of pets that were all part of the family—dogs, chickens, possums, peacocks. When one of the dogs gave birth to seven of the cutest puppies, of course mum named them after Beatrix Potter’s characters: Flopsy, Mopsy, Cottontail, Benjamin, Peter, Jemima and Timmy! On top of that, for the past decade or so, my brother has given our mum a different character soft toy for every birthday. Her room is now literally a Beatrix Potter museum.
So since it’s Mother’s Day this weekend, I’m dedicating this post to my dear mama bear, without who I would not be where I am today. Thank you for everything, mum. We love you so much. x
Peter Rabbit in Japan
Beatrix Potter’s wonderful world of rabbits, farmers and vegetable gardens in the enchanting English countryside is immensely popular in Japan. The Japanese version of the books can be found in every bookstore around the country—I even saw them in a tiny shop in Hokkaido one time.
Last year, to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Potter’s birth, there was a special exhibition held in Shinjuku. We got to see original sketches and books that had never been shown to the public before, and learn about how Peter Rabbit came to be – both the character and the drawing. It was very cool!
Peter Rabbit Cafe
The Peter Rabbit Garden Cafe opened in 2015 in Jiyugaoka, one of Tokyo’s more affluent neighbourhoods. One of the reasons I loved this restaurant was its attention to detail.
From the entrance, you immediately feel like you’ve stepped into a storybook. It’s a Tokyo version of the English countryside. Real flowers and shrubs fill the front porch. If you keep an eye out, you’ll even see Peter’s blue jacket that Mr. McGregor hung up to scare the birds away.
Inside the restaurant, it’s a very cozy atmosphere. Blue and white checker tablecloths cover every table. Wooden floorboards and furniture make it feel very warm and inviting. Every table is decorated with Potter’s books for you to read and character stuffed toys which sit quietly beside you. The walls display pictures of Potter, and on the shelves you’ll find flowers, woven baskets, gardening tools and little things that conjure up images of the quaint English countryside.
On the Menu
From special afternoon tea sets that include cakes, macarons and a pot of tea, to salads served up in a watering can, to cappuccinos topped with images of Peter Rabbit and Benjamin Bunny, there’s nothing dull on offer here.
The beautifully illustrated menu is divided into 10 sections, each with fun titles: Peter Rabbit’s Gardens, Benjamin Bunny’s Meals, Peter Rabbit’s Vegetables, Dishes of Jemima, Mrs. Tabitha’s Tea Time, Josephine Bunny’s Shop, The Sly Old Cat’s Drink Menu, Mrs. Tod’s Side Menu, Cecily Parsley’s Alcohol and Peter Rabbit Kid’s Menu.
I went with one of the “Sleepy salad plates” in Peter Rabbit’s Vegetables which the waitress explained is inspired by how Peter Rabbit would get sleepy after overeating in the vegetable garden – and so we should be careful not to get sleepy, too. The dish had a Japanese-style omelet with tomato sauce, a warm butter bun, and a salad with dry ice to give a really cool steam (sleepy) effect. 10/10 for presentation. The ingredients used here are all seasonal and from Japan, so they are fresh and full of flavour. And with lots of vegetables in every dish, it’s very healthy, too.
I’m so glad I stumbled across this cafe. I was literally just walking around Jiyugaoka when I spotted the garden entrance. If you’re a fan of the books, I highly recommend stopping by for a meal. More info can be found on their website > peterrabbit-japan.com
Coincidentally, the latest Peter Rabbit movie will come out in Japan next week. There are ads everywhere for it at the moment. I’ve read some mixed reviews, but it looks like a good laugh – James Corden is the voice of Peter Rabbit, so I guess that says a lot! Has anyone seen it?