Kyoto Journal Features Translator Cathy Hirano

Kyoto Journal 86 Page 132

By Wendy Uchimura, Yokohama

The inspiring talk “Why I Translate for Children and Teens in a Translation-Resistant Market,” given by translator Cathy Hirano at the 2014 SCBWI Japan Translation Day, a biennial event, has been skillfully adapted into an article that appears in Kyoto Journal Volume 86.

Cathy Hirano is an award-winning translator whose works include The Friends by Kazumi Yumoto, as well as Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit and Moribito II: Guardian of the Darkness by Nahoko Uehashi.

With an introduction by Avery Fischer Udagawa, this article delves into why we should bother to translate children’s literature, the benefits of sharing culture, how the English publishing world can sometimes act as an obstacle, and how the translator can play mediator between the author and the editor.

Top: page 132 of Kyoto Journal Volume 86. This issue is downloadable here.

Kyoto Journal 86

Publishers Weekly Features Poet Misuzu Kaneko

By Deborah Iwabuchi, Maebashi, Japan

Are You an Echo: The Lost Poetry of Misuzu Kaneko has been featured by Publishers WeeklyIf you are still trying to decide whether to reserve a copy of this picture book from Chin Music Press, due out in late September, be sure to read this in-depth introduction and have a look at a few of the beautiful illustrations. Poetry by Misuzu Kaneko, text and translation by David Jacobson, Sally Ito, and Michiko Tsuboi. Illustrations by Toshikado Hajiri.

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AFCC 2016 (Part 3): Slideshow Afterglow

By Avery Fischer Udagawa, Bangkok

Last month I thoroughly enjoyed Asian Festival of Children’s Content 2016, where Japan was the Country of Focus. While physically present in Singapore’s National Library Building, I spent three days immersed in presentations about Japan. This post contains slides from several.

Early on I spoke about 31 Japanese children’s books available in English translation—from folktales to fantasy, and from picture books to edgy YA. Click for the full slideshow (an 18 MB download).

J Children's Books in E by Avery Fischer Udagawa AFCC 2016

Or here is a PDF list of Japanese children’s books in English translation, recommended for the AFCC 2016 Festival Bookstore (118 KB). We passed many of these around in my session thanks to a generous loan from Denise Tan of Closetful of Books. Thank you, Denise!

One of the leading translators of Japanese children’s books into English is the amazing Cathy Hirano. Her AFCC 2016 talk “On Translation” featured this humorous slide, which is a literal translation of a page from a Japanese picture book.

Yoda slide by Cathy Hirano AFCC 2016

To read how Cathy handled this text in her final draft, watch for Yours Sincerely, Giraffe by Megumi Iwasa, illustrated by Jun Takabatake, due out in August 2016 from Gecko Press.

A picture book you might already have seen from Japan is this one, published by Kaisei-sha.

The Tiny King slide by Akiko Beppu AFCC 2016

The Tiny King appeared in a presentation by editor Akiko Beppu, who spoke of how some illustrators in Japan—including Taro Miura—are making picture books with striking two-page spreads, and working in a style with international appeal.

Yumiko Sakuma, a translator and critic, spoke of Japanese middle grade and YA novels about afterschool activities (bukatsu)—some of which are unusual, such as archery and metalworking. This slide of hers shows two novels by Mito Mahara, published by Kodansha.

Afterschool activity bks slide by Yumiko Sakuma AFCC 2016

Ms. Sakuma presented the history of Japanese children’s literature since World War II as well as recent trends and needs. Her figures showed Japan is publishing as many as 5,000 new children’s titles per year; 4,381 in 2015, of which 16.1 percent were translations from abroad (in the U.S., this figure is around 2 percent).

Miki Yakamoto, a manga artist and assistant professor at Tsukuba University, gave a thorough overview of manga in Japan, explaining that for years major works have begun as serials in manga magazines. This was the case with her own work Sunny Sunny Ann! in the magazine Morning:

Manga magazine slide by Miki Yamamoto AFCC 2016

Ms. Yakamoto pointed out that manga is evolving due to new technology, but right now manga magazines and books make up just under 40 percent of all printed matter published in Japan.

One of my favorite sessions of the conference was Kazuo Iwamura’s; I learned that his Family of Fourteen books, featuring a family of mice in a forest, ring true because Iwamura himself grew up in woods. “The woods were my playground,” he told us.

The Family of Fourteen books AFCC 2016The above set is translated into English by Arthur Binard, published by Doshinsha.

How much children’s literature from Japan and Asia is represented in the English-reading world? I spoke about this in my other solo presentation, “Understanding the Business of Translation.” Click to download (4 MB).Cathy Hirano and Nahoko Uehashi slide by Avery Fischer Udagawa AFCC 2016

My thanks to those who gave permission to use slides above. Any errors herein are mine alone. Much gratitude to the National Book Development Council of Singapore, to Asian Festival of Children’s Content, and to this year’s Japan: Country of Focus team. Kanpai, AFCC!

Talking Translation Over Coffee in Ofuna

By Avery Fischer Udagawa, Bangkok

On June 11, 2016, several SCBWI Japan Translation Group members and friends met for coffee in Ofuna Station, Kamakura. We forgot to take a photo until one participant had left, but here we are!

Meet-up 11 Jun 16

From left, Alexander O. Smith, Holly Thompson, Avery Fischer Udagawa, Geraldine Harcourt, Emily Balistrieri, and Wendy Uchimura. Not pictured: Andrew Wong. Photo courtesy Alex Smith.

Topics of discussion included publishers for new translation projects; strategies to keep out-of-print titles alive; and Japan’s MG/YA novels about unique afterschool activities, such as broadcasting club, diving, gardening, flying, and tanka poetry. We want to translate these books!

AFCC 2016 (Part 2): A Harvest of Knowledge About Japanese Children’s Content

At Asian Festival of Children’s Content 2016 in Singapore, Japan featured as Country of Focus. Offerings included a Japan Booth and Japan-related sessions over three days of the conference.

By Andrew Wong, Tokyo

IMAG2588_1Helping out at the Japan Booth and attending some sessions on the final day of the Country of Focus: Japan program at AFCC 2016 was enough for me to gain a harvest of knowledge on Japanese children’s content. I can only imagine how much more I could have learned from a full three days. Here are some quick impressions from the sidelines.

Right: AFCC Country of Focus poster with illustration by Chihiro Iwasaki. Photo by Andrew Wong.

The Japan Booth treated passersby to a selection of some 200 books. Drawn by the cover illustrations and exhibition panels, the curious stepped in to pick up the books. Some pored over them quietly, taking in the colors and stories in the pictures; others opened up to chat about writers, artists, and their own stories of Japan. Between sessions, Kazuo Iwamura’s and Chihiro Iwasaki’s works would sometimes create overcrowding in part of the booth. Many visitors were ready to take the books home with them after they had taken a look, even though they did not read much Japanese. (Singapore library users will be happy to hear that the books in the booth will soon inaugurate a brand new Japanese-language collection.)

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Books and panel on display at the Japan Booth. Photo by Naomi Kojima.

Naomi Kojima offered a popular hour-long session on Japanese picture books. She almost ran a half-marathon, racing through more than a dozen picture books in a room packed to the wall with eager listeners. Giggles and laughter accompanied her commentaries on Noboru Baba’s Ju-ippiki no neko (Eleven Cats) and Aju Kato’s Jicchorin no aruku michi (The Jicchorins Take a Walk) as everyone joined her in admiring the titles.

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Table covered with books toured by Naomi Kojima in just one hour. Photo by Holly Thompson.

Besides books, multi-talented musicians Toshihiko Shinzawa and Satoko Yamano charmed listeners with songs written for children and adults alike, and they demonstrated how adding music to picture books and vice versa can create new ways to enjoy both media. The International Library of Children’s Literature‘s Chihoko Tanaka captivated children and parents with lively performances of Japanese rhymes and folk tales, while award-winning manga artist Miki Yamamoto helped visitors create their very own folded peek-a-boo cards.

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Miki Yamamoto (upper right) helps visitors create peek-a-boo cards. Photo by Naomi Kojima.

This year’s focus on Japan coincided with the 50th anniversary of Singapore-Japan diplomatic ties, and a new chapter in literary collaboration began with an underwater launch of bilingual books (more on this here) as stingrays looked on in the Sentosa aquarium.

Festival participants got to hear Akiko Beppu, editorial director at Kaisei-sha, liken the work of an editor to that of content producer, linking author and reader and envisioning each book in the store from the start. Doshinsha’s chairperson Kyoko Sakai was on hand to share the techniques and psychology behind kamishibai, a form of storytelling theatre that uses large picture cards in a wooden stage. She made a brief but serious mention of kamishibai’s appeal and its sad history of use in wartime propaganda, and said she wanted the tradition to be used for peace and harmony.

Kamishibai stage (Doshinsha.co.jp)

Kamishibai stage. Image by Doshinsha.

Ms. Sakai’s message drew parallels with Yumiko Sakuma‘s remarks in her closing session: some authors in Japan now are working to bring up topics of war and peace in children’s books, because the country’s pacifist constitution is under threat. Ms. Sakuma also highlighted two other trends in Japanese children’s literature: a focus on unconventional relationships and less-common afterschool activities, and stories about the Great East Japan Earthquake of 2011. She ended by stressing the need for even greater diversity in content for children in Japan.

Covering the recent changes and challenges in Japanese children’s books, Ms. Sakuma’s words proved a thoughtful closer. Like the other sessions, her speech offered hints of the hopes and dreams that we want children to cherish and chase―to help them on their way to shaping the future.

AFCC 2016 (Part 1): Japanese-English Bilingual Picture Book Launched in Singapore

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At Asian Festival of Children’s Content 2016 in Singapore, Japan featured as Country of Focus. Events included a launch for the picture book Monster Day on Tabletop Hill (above right), written by Japanese author Akiko Sueyoshi*, translated by Cathy Hirano, and illustrated by David Liew. AFCC Publications: ISBN 978-9810993542. Photo by Kua Chee Siong/The Straits Times.

By Malavika Nataraj, Singapore

Monster Day on Tabletop Hill coverWhen an award-winning author, translator and illustrator all come together to create a book, the result can be nothing but special. That’s the first thought that comes to mind while reading Monster Day on Tabletop Hill. Author Akiko Sueyoshi’s latest work, in collaboration with acclaimed translator Cathy Hirano and sculptor-turned-illustrator David Liew, is a lively story about Forky, the little fork boy who lives in a mug-cup shaped house.

Forky is out playing in Sugar Cube Park on Monster Day, when he hears bells clanging, announcing the arrival of the guardians of clean, Grandpa Sweep-Sweep and Granny Wipe-Wipe, who sweep-sweep and wipe-wipe at everything that’s in their path, determined to get Tabletop Hill as clean as can be. It’s a particularly distressing day for carelessly wandering creatures and monsters, who may well be swept away into nothingness, never to return.

While dodging this bustling pair, Forky chances upon a glowing pumpkin in the middle of a field. And out of this pumpkin house comes a delightfully motley crew: little biscuit bats, musical chocolate skeletons and . . . the four Marshomon.

Monsters though they are, Forky isn’t afraid of the Marshomon at all, joining in their dancing and inviting them all out to play in Sugar Cube Park, where they shoot at lollipops till scrumptious ice-cream and juices ooze out.

Their wonderful adventure must end, however, when the ominous bells clang once again and the doors to Pumpkin House begin to close. A pacey and engaging read, Forky’s adventure will keep little readers in thrall from beginning to end.

Monster Day on Tabletop Hill spread 1Illustration © David Liew

This book is one more feather in the cap of award-winning children’s author Akiko Sueyoshi, who is no stranger to picture books. Her most popular story, the long-selling Mori no Kakurenbō (Hide-and-Seek in the Forest), was first published in 1978. Since then, she has won several awards for her work, including the Shogakukan Children’s Publication Culture Award in 1999 for Amefuribana Saita (When the Rainflowers Bloomed) and two Newcomer Prizes for Hoshi ni kaetta shōjo (The Girl Who Returned to the Star), as well as the Noma Award for Children’s Literature for Mama no kīroi kozō (Mummy’s Little Yellow Elephant).

Monster on Tabletop Hill is written in prose, in Sueyoshi’s typically concise style and filled with little details that set the mood of the story. The work of Cathy Hirano, translator of the Moribito series with two Batcheldor Awards under her belt, means that both English and Japanese audiences can enjoy this bilingual picture book in the best possible way. Hirano’s contribution to Sueyoshi’s story is subtle but evident; the translation is simple and energetic, faithful to the mood and setting of the original Japanese text.

Monster Day on Tabletop Hill spread 2Illustration © David Liew

Bright and quirky illustrations by David Liew—known to fans as Wolfe, the illustrator of the Ellie Belly series written by Eliza Teoh—bring this delightful little story entirely to life. The expressions on Forky’s face, the chocolate skeletons with their instruments and a grinning pumpkin house all add significant depth to the text.

The whole story with its joyful illustrations, written simply but so engagingly, carries with it an air of a fun celebration, where monsters with swirling scarves dance to the beat of drums and lost hats can be the beginning of a friendship. Sadly, the monsters must soon return to their pumpkin lair and we are forced to say goodbye to little Forky. His romp with the Marshomon and the other monsters is over far too soon.

Malavika Nataraj is the author of Suraya’s Gift: The Story Catcher Children and is an aspiring Japanese-to-English translator.

Akiko-Sueyoshi- AFCC 2013*Editors’ note: It is with great sadness that we report the death of Akiko Sueyoshi (1942–2016), the author of Monster Day on Tabletop Hill. Ms. Sueyoshi passed away due to cancer on May 28, 2016, two days after her final picture book was launched at AFCC. We understand that she was able to view the finished book before her death. News of her passing in the Asahi Shimbun newspaper in Japanese is here. A description of her life and works in English is here. Her photo at left appears on the website of AFCC, where she spoke in 2013. After a full life in which she gladdened the hearts of countless children, may she rest in peace.

Moribito Giveaway at Cynsations!

IMG_1917Members of SCBWI Japan Translation Group have published an interview with translator Cathy Hirano at Cynsations, the children’s literature blog.

The interview includes a giveaway (open to entrants worldwide) of Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit by Nahoko Uehashi, translated by Cathy Hirano.

This title won the 2009 Mildred L. Batchelder Award for publisher Arthur A. Levine Books, and Uehashi later won the 2014 Hans Christian Andersen Award for Writing. The hardback version of Moribito is now a collector’s item. Four more days to enter!

Cathy Hirano and Cynsations‘ own Cynthia Leitich Smith will speak at Asian Festival of Children’s Content (AFCC), 25-29 May 2016.

 

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