Vary brief analysis of mouse image in Russian and Japanese cultures

18/07/2014 16:05

I can suggest that both in Russian and Japanese culture an image of mouse has many similar features.

First of all, mouse is associated with a little grey thief, as we can find in such Japanese expression like 「ネズミに引かれる」(«nezumi ni hikareru»). It means “be stolen by mice”, very cute, isn`t? How many mouse-powers are needed just to start movement of human body and moreover – take it inside the mouse living space (like Jerry`s one – a little hole in the wall)?!  It hard to imagine how man could not notice his body`s movement driven by another power.. But, anyway, there is just a cute expression in Japanese, that we can use we oneself feels very lonely.

 In Russian proverbs mouse is also considered as thief, but in more realistic way - «Богатый в деньгах, что мышь в крупах» which means “be as rich as mouse in cereals”. Ordinary, mouse steal different types of cereals from man to make a stock of food for future – rice, oatmeal, peeled-barley and so on. But stop a minute, in Japan, I guess, the rice would be the target number one for many reasons.

 In Russia we have a quite famous animation film of “Thumbelina”, where one story of main plot was about meeting with field mouse. The mouse was really happy about Thumbelina`s low level of appetite, - only a half of granule in a day! (Below is an image from animation)    


 And one more proverb eith mouse= thief association. «Кошка мышей ловить не устанет, вор воровать не перестанет» - «The cat never stops catching a mouse, and thief never stops stealing». On the one hand, poor little mouse is presented as a victim (of hunters like cats), but on the other hand we can identify it (by implication) as a rich and big or experienced thief. Yes, cats are probably the most annoying problem im mouse life, but in Japanese folklore we can find out proverb with using “mouse trap” device. 「ネズミ捕りにひっかかる」(«nezumitori ni hikkakaru») – “to get in mouse trap”. For example, you are late and desperately moving to somewhere and exceeding all allowable speed-limits on the road, and in that moment you meet with road police. Yeah, you`ve get caught like in a mouse trap! You will not be the only one, because at that part of road many of such racers like you are welcomed by police.  
 Of corse, in russian folklore there is an expression with mouse trap - «
Ввалился, как мышь в закром» ("got into like a mouse in bin"), but it also has two nuances – wealth or trap.   

 However, in case mouse faces with a real trouble, for example when almost get caught by a cat in a corner, it could become a very strong and furious because there is nothing to lose and possibly can bite a cat! It is reflected in the next expression - 「窮鼠猫を噛む」(«kyuuso neko wo kamu»). I think everyone of us can become a tiger in such situation

 One more interesting thing, that there is a mouse-Robin-Hood character in Japanese culture -  「ネズミ小僧」(«nezumikozou»). Yes, yes, yes – you are correct; he (it?) steals wealth and money from rich people and distributes it to poor ones. Such a good and kind heart! You can find him in Kabuki-theater`s performance or in films about ancient times.  

 In Russian culture I remember two mischievous mice character from popular USSR-made cartoon animation “Leopold the Cat ”. These guys are completely on the opposite side to this Robin-Hood mouse from Japan (wow, no wonder if he has a lot of knives and “shurikens”, we should be careful, especially rich ones!), because they trying to spite that cat, make fool of him, but result is always same – they make fool of themselves, no more, and “friendship has won” – a very famous words of film.
 Sometimes mice also can be dangerous! ☆