IN TRANSLATION

Lemon

April 22, 2019

An impenetrable curse lay heavy on my heart. Call it an uneasiness, call it ill humors—like a hangover after drinking, you drink every day and there comes a time when it all might as well be a hangover. Well, that time had come.

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Cloudburst by Fujisawa Shuhei

April 4, 2019

In the daytime, Kakichi worked as a knife sharpener. He made his Edo rounds carrying a box of grindstones and files — the tools of his trade — and he sharpened kitchen knives, sickles, and scissors. Occasionally he was asked to set the teeth of a saw, and he carried the files for that purpose. And when a promising house caught his eye in the course of his rounds, he’d pay that house another visit in the dead of night.

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While the beans are cooking

February 22, 2019

Grandmother was cooking kidney beans in a big pot. Sayo’s father had gone to Kitaura to buy groceries. Takara Hot Springs had no guests. The hot spring inn deep in the mountains was soaked in rain and silence.

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Last Light

December 21, 2018

In the late afternoon, while magic-hour light poured through the bay window opposite his desk, I watched the greatest translator of Japanese literature at work translating its most important modern novel, heretofore undiscovered by readers of English…

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The Breast

March 13, 2016

A noise . . . something was making a noise. . . . Concentrating all the strength she could muster in her semiconscious state on that thought, Hiroko­ began to awaken with difficulty from the depths of a deep, dark sleep.

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Grand Master

July 27, 2014

An was wandering about in an unsettling dream when he suddenly awoke. Right before awakening, he was being chased by a suspicious stranger who had sneakily followed and approached him.

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Behind the Folding Screen of “Japan’s Modern Divide”

February 22, 2014

The history of Japanese photography underwent a significant change in the 1930s. The traditional pictorial-influenced movement merged into New Photography (Shinko Shashin)…

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The Art of Translation

November 5, 2013

A number of years ago several of our Japanese-related journals carried an ongoing debate on the art or techniques of translating the prose literature of Japan. Some of these manifestos and arguments often degenerated into a subtle, or not so subtle, academic name-calling. But two distinct groups did emerge…

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Notes of a Crocodile by Qiu Miaojin

April 8, 2013

Notes of a Crocodile is not a book that shows teenagers how to live a straight life, in any sense of the term. And yet it is intended to be a survival manual for teenagers, for a certain age when reading the right book can save your life…

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The Hojoki
: Witness in a Torn World

November 16, 2012

The times are calamitous, and it is scarcely less frightening to look back than forward. A horrific earthquake turns the world upside-down.

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Emperor Meiji’s Clock Poem

August 21, 2012

When Emperor Meiji, 122nd Emperor of Japan, reigned from 1868 to 1912, Japan was beginning its modern explosion towards the modern world.

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Language goes Two Ways

November 5, 2011

Language goes two ways: it enables us to have a small window onto an independently existing world, but it also shapes — via its very structures and vocabularies — how we see that world.

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The Last of the Smokers

November 2, 2011

Sitting on the roof the National Diet Building, under attack by tear-gas fired from the Defence Force helicopters circling above, I am smoking my last cigarettes.

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Crow Home

October 5, 2011

The sky seems to be a mix of dust and smoke, laced with an urban haze: something gray, something muddy, not blue at all. Maybe it had been blue once…

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The Wrong Paradise

September 28, 2011

Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941), the first Asian to win a Nobel Prize, is widely considered the greatest Bengali poet of all time. He is certainly one of the finest writers of the world in the past century….

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They Who Render Anew: Japanese-English literary translators reflect upon their calling

July 24, 2011

Literary translations, and translators, remain central to the spread of Japanese culture and thought — especially in the West, where Japan is seldom covered in the mass media.

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Red Pine: Dancing With Words

July 19, 2011

When I first saw Red Pine’s translation of “The Poems of Cold Mountain,” I remember thinking, “This is something important — who’s this Red Pine?”

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The Pillow Book review - Kyoto Journal

The Pillow Book: Translating a Classic

June 28, 2011

Most people in Japan can reach back to their school days to unhesitatingly recite the famous opening lines of the thousand-year-old classic known in English as The Pillow Book. The sounds roll off the tongue like poetry…

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The Barter

April 16, 2011

The first day we met, he introduced himself with these words: “I am Heinrich, from Bavaria, located in the south of Germany.”

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KJ 93: Food