A Rabbit's Eyes
by Kenjirō Haitani


A Rabbit’s Eyes follows the struggles of Fumi Kotani, an idealistic first-year teacher, as she tries to reach the hearts of her students—especially Tetsuzō, a nearly autistic boy who lives on the compound of a garbage disposal plant located near the school. As Ms. Kotani becomes more involved in Tetsuzō’s life, and the lives of the other disposal plant children, she begins to change her views about education and life.

The central message of
A Rabbit’s Eyes is that one can learn from outcast members of society if willing to share their struggles. In educational situations, this implies that teachers—and other students—have much to learn from so-called “problem children,” including those that are dirty, violent, poor, or stigmatized. Haitani’s idealistic hope is that an acceptance of society’s outcasts will lead to a more charitable and cooperative society.

You can read a paper I wrote about the novel here:

Haitani Kenjiro's Usagi no Me: A Challenge to Teachers in the 21st Century

  • To order, go to the relevant Amazon site:

Amazon in US:
A Rabbit's Eyes

Amazon in Japan:
A Rabbit's Eyes

  • Here are some online reviews of the book:

A review from the
East Bay Express: "Learning Down the House: School is really a matter of mind-melding,"
(Page down a few paragraphs to read the discussion of
A Rabbit's Eyes.)

Here is an excerpt:

Primary-school teachers work overtime and weep for their students' welfare in A Rabbit's Eyes ($14.95), an idealistic novel by Japan's Kenjiro Haitani. At first a book about first-graders seems an odd choice for the edgy New York publishing house Vertical, which does Koji Suzuki's horror-show Ring series, until you realize that ex-teacher Haitani is an outspoken activist famous for working to stop the construction of a US military heliport in Okinawa. He also broke off with his Japanese publisher in 1997 after one of its magazines -- greedily and inhumanely, Haitani felt -- ran a photo of a teenage murder suspect.

Review on some things

Here is part of the review:

This book wasn’t meant for the elite, nor was it meant to sit on the bookshelf next to Catcher in the Rye. A Rabbit’s Eyes is a call to arms for a nation that had become goals oriented in its approach to education. It’s interesting that our view of the Japanese educational system is so different from the picture painted by this novel. Kenjiro Haitani, the author of the novel, was apparently himself a teacher for years before the release of the novel, and formed a nursery school some time after. This personal insight into the nature of the system is very valuable.I found the novel to be very moving and engaging, and despite any awkwardness in dialogue and language, I would highly recommend it to just about anyone. Unfortunately, it looks like the book may be going out of print, so until Vertical issues a second print, track down whatever copies you can, because it’s worth a read, and I promise whenever you’re finished you’ll think of a dozen people who should borrow it from you.My favorite part: Chapters 11 through 15 deal with the student Minako. I’m pretty sure every single page within this section had something on it that made me want to cry, but in a good way. Certainly the most memorable part of the novel.

Review from The Village Voice: "No Fear of Fly-ing: Japanese Bestseller is a Wierd Pet Tale"

Here is an excerpt:

The book became a bestseller in Japan when it was first published in 1974. The narrative turns treacly when Haitani moves from the entomological to the sociological, from fly diets to hunger strikes and recycling drives, but it’s sweetly earnest, forgivable melodrama, the humble insects serving as a metaphor for Japan’s poor treatment of its lower classes and ethnic minorities.

The Complete Review

Various comments on