We got this from “A frustrated (American) Tolkien Fan in Japan,” who’s really looked into the LACK of a ‘LOTR craze’ in Japan. Seeing how things stand at present, it’s possible that this country will go absolutely wild when they see LOTR after having had [apparently] no access to a good translation in print, which is what I’m learning. I’m very curious to see what that could lead to. Here is what our correspondent wrote:
“Regarding the “relative lack of popularity and awareness of LOTR” in Japan, after recovering from my shock of having to wait 3 extra months, I queried several of my co-workers here in Tokyo.
Most are male, Japanese, techie/engineering types, mid 20’s to late 30’s. Most have heard of the name (the old name is “Yubiwa-Monogatari”, The Tale of the Ring; the movie site is pushing a phoenetic version of “Lord of the Ring”, which sounds much cooler), but none of them have read it and none of them knew anything about a movie being made. Role-playing games are huge over here, and translations of Harry Potter crap are all over the place. I have no idea what’s up with Tolkien’s works.
A quick check of Amazon.co.jp lists several printings of LoTR (1972, 1977, 1992), various Hobbits, a Silmarillion (1981), and a couple other works by Tolkien. Just about all of them were translated by one or both of the same two people.
For whatever reason, there is bad market penetration in Japan for LoTR”.