Year of the Hare – a Finnish-Japanese theatre project


Year of the Hare – a Finnish-Japanese theatre project

Ever wanted to escape the everyday life filled with work and stress? Let go of everything and just spontaneously get carried away?

These thoughts and themes are in the focus of the story in The Year of the Hare, familiar to Finnish people as the hit novel by Arto Paasilinna, as well as its theatre and movie adaptations. In 2017, the breakaway of a middle aged man – triggered by a rabbit – can be witnessed on stage in Japan: The play will premiere in Hanno as well as Tokyo in December.

The Year of the Hare -project began with the acquaintance of directors Juha Mäkelä (Finnish National Theatre) and Seri Kurosawa (ZA-KOENJI Public Theatre, Jikando Theatre Company). The renowned professionals met for the first time 10 years ago, and the joint Japanese production of The Year of The Hare has been worked on from year 2015 onwards. Kurosawa proposed Mäkelä to direct something – preferably Finnish – for Jikando Theatre Company and Mäkelä chose The Year of the Hare.

Besides two directors and six actors, a translator as well as set designers and costume designers have taken part in the project. In the photo: Yumina Nomoto (upper left corner), Cogito Kinouchi, Kinuko Oasa, Juha Mäkelä, Kazuho Matsumoto, Mizuki Hizai, Kuniko Ui, Saeko Ozaki,  Shinichi Kotani, Seri Kurosawa (middle of the front row) ja Yumina Nomoto.

The project is groundbreaking in many ways, as it is the first theatre production to be translated directly from Japanese to Finnish. The play was translated by Kuniko Ui and Seri Kurosawa, and directed by Mäkelä, with Kurosawa’s practical assistance. The story is played out by six Japanese actors.

In its Japanese version, the play is still set in Finland – in the modern day, even though the original book came out already in 1975. However, the events could well place take anywhere, and the story’s themes are also highly relevant in Japan, where overworking and its various effects are not uncommon.

Both Mäkelä and Kurosawa wish the co-production hope that the production will be both a successful take on the popular story as well as a view on the similarities and differences of two cultures.

The Finnish Institute in Japan is one of the supporters of the project. The tickets are on sale and can be bought via the project’s website. Please note that the play is performed only in Japanese.