IN TRANSLATION

A Familiar Environment

“Women authors in Japan are more or less par for winning the big prizes, and they’re publishing easily as much as men, but they’re not appearing in translation. There’s a movement to try and do something about it.”

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Cloudburst by Fujisawa Shuhei

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

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

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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Filmmaker and Activist Kamanaka Hitomi

Like other artists and activists before her who have unequivocally opposed nuclear technology in all its forms, Kamanaka Hitomi doesn’t regard her own ideology as a matter of present-day left and right.

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Grand Master

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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The Unyielding

Okamoto began to write prose of lyrical and, at times, hyperbolic intensity, exploring modernist concepts of the artist and/or the individual in collision with society, spiritual alienation, and the moral, ethical, and political dilemma of the abandonment of tradition.

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The Art of Translation

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

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 Last of the Smokers

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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Revealing the Invisible

The Hawaiian word ‘mãnoa’means “vast and deep,” and is a literal description of the lush green valley on O‘ahu that is home to a unique bi-annual publication of the same name…

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Crow Home

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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Poetry, Love, Enlightenment

Eight hundred years ago, in a northeastern town of the Persian kingdom, a boy was born. When he was twelve years old, he chanced to meet the great Sufi master and Persian poet Attar, who told the boy’s father: “The fiery words of this boy will kindle the souls of lovers all over the world.”

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The Wrong Paradise

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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Red Pine: Dancing With Words

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: Translating a Classic

The Pillow Book review - Kyoto Journal

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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Before you go, be sure to check out our latest issue:

KJ 93: Food