| This is the first Japanese fantasy for children in post-war period.
It is also the forerunner of modern Japanese children's literature. Daremo Shiranai Chiisana Kuni is the first volume of Korobokkuru Monogatari series [Tales of Korobokkurus] by Satô Satoru (1928 -), which was concluded with the final volume Chiisana Kuni no Tuzuki no Hanashi [A Following Tale of the Tiny Country] in 1983. |
The story is as follows: one day, a third grader of an elementary school "Boku" [I] finds an open space on a hill over a mountain pass. He loved the hill, while people rarely went near there because there was a rumor that the place was cursed. One day, a girl on the hill let her red shoe flow on a river. Boku saw a very small person (koboshi-sama) in it. After World War II, grown-up "Boku" visited the hill again and decided to make his own land on the tip of an arrow with the small people. He gradually becomes intimate with the small people. He rents the hill from the landowner, and builds a small hut. The girl he saw when he was a child has become a teacher Ochibi Sensei ["Little Teacher"] at a kindergarden. She helps him in many ways. One day, he learns that a motorway through the hill is going to be built. The little people go to the people promoting the plan, whisper them, and make them change their minds. Ochibi Sensei applies to the nickname competition for a small car. She wins the first prize, and, with the prize money, Ochibi Sensei and "Boku" buy the hill.
Daremo Shiranai Chiisana Kuni was first published in a private edition in 1959. An editor of Kôdansha read it and a Kôdansha edition was published in the same year. It was followed by Mametsubu Hodo no Chiisana Inu [A Dog as Small as a Pea], Hoshi kara Ochita Chiisana Hito [A Little Man Fallen from a Star], Fushigi na Me o Shita Otoko no Ko [A Boy with Wonderful Eyes], and Chiisana Kuni no Tsuzuki no Hanashi. The illustrator of the first and the second books is Wakana Kei, of the third, fourth, and fifth is Murakami Tsutomu.
Daremo Shiranai Chiisana Kuni received the Mainichi Award for Publication and the Japanese Association of Writers for Children Newcomer Prize. It was also selected as a candidate for the Hans Christian Andersen Award from Japan. In 1993 a Kôdansha Pocket Book edition was published. One critic says that this story concretely shows the idea of post-war democracy, while another receives Boku's declaration that the hill is his own as an ideology to attach importance to the system of private property.